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Q & A: Failing Schools,
"Reality" & the No Child Left Behind Act

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Last week's article about 8,652 failing schools and the No Child Left Behind Act caused many folks to write.

The #1 question was "How can I get a list of the failing schools in my state?" Other people wanted to know how these lists of failing schools were compiled.
Some people wrote about inequities

Do you have a source of information listing the failing schools by name?

A: The list of failing schools was prepared by your state department of education.

Contact your state department of education and ask for the list. Use our Directory of SEAs to get contact info for your state department of education.

We understand that states that had a high number of failing schools have been swamped with calls from people with the same questions.

Be persistent. If you have trouble getting an answer, write a letter (our Directory of SEAs has mailing addresses, phone numbers and email contact info).


Q: I was surprised to see more than 1,500 schools listed for Michigan. Why is this? Is every state held to the same performance levels? Do individual states have a say in this?

A: The lists of failing schools were obtained from the state departments of educations. When you read about state improvement and standards under NCLB, you will see that states set different standards. Some states reported no failing schools. Other states like Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and California reported many.

When you read the Fact Sheet about State Improvement Lists

and other info on the No child Left Behind site

I think things will be clearer.


Rod from Chicago wrote:

Your newsletter notes "Kids from 8,652 failing schools can transfer to better schools this fall."

We have more than our fair share of failing schools here in Chicago, about three percent of the 8,652 failing schools are Chicago.

The Illinois State Legislature is prohibiting student transfers from failing Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to CPS magnet schools. Magnet schools in the city are overwhelmingly the highest performing public schools in the city. By this act the State Legislature has made a fraud of the supposed right to transfer.

In future newsletters, please look at the reality of the No Child Left Behind Act's transfer provisions, not the theory.

From Wrightslaw:

We will continue to tell parents about their legal rights under the laws that affect their children - IDEA, Section 504, ADA, and NCLB.

We know that current "reality" is often different from what laws say. This is true in all areas of law. Federal law trumps state law. Eventually, an individual or group will file a lawsuit to clarify these issues. A judge will issue a ruling on the issue.

This will not happen tomorrow or the next day. The ink is not yet dry on the NCLB Act - it was signed into law in January of this year. NCLB regulations are not in place.

Things will change. Change takes time.

We will not preach gloom and doom to parents - once they know their rights, some will claim their rights - and this will force the system to change.

Even the Illinois legislature may change when parents of kids with disabilities learn how to write letters that document their wishes and their concerns - and exercise their right to vote!

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