New Rules for Schools Criticized
LA Times, November 28, 2002
By Doug Smith, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles school officials criticized as unworkable new federal regulations
that will require school districts to
offer transfers to students in low performing schools -- whether or not there is
space for them at better schools.
The rules also will demand that all new teachers assigned to those
underachieving schools be fully
credentialed, another daunting goal for local schools.
"These regulations are a mistake in both those regards for L.A.," said Roy Romer,
Los Angeles Unified School
District superintendent. "Obviously I can't tell you how we'll handle it at this
Romer said he will vigorously lobby Secretary of Education Rod Paige to set
rational goals for implementation.
Paige in the past has praised academic improvements by the nation's
second-largest school district.
"For the secretary to compliment us and to put us in a position that would drive
us backward doesn't make
sense," Romer said. "So I assume there is room for negotiations."
U.S. Department of Education officials previously had indicated that regulations
implementing the No Child Left
Behind Act signed by President Bush in January might allow highly crowded school
districts such as L.A. Unified
to deny transfers because of lack of space. But the regulations, which were
released Tuesday, said there would
be no cause for denial of a transfer.
In Los Angeles, the rule could apply to about 150,000 students in 115 schools
identified by the district as low
performing based on test scores.
Theodore Alexander Jr., who heads the district's integration programs, said a
letter informing parents of the
transfer option will go out next week as part of the annual brochure advertising
Based on past experience, Alexander said, he does not anticipate a large
response because most parents want
their children to stay close to home.
But if there are too many responses, the district cannot comply, he said. "We
cannot give them what is not there,"
Some school districts in Los Angeles County have already sent letters to parents
in their poor performing
Dick Van Der Laan, spokesman for the Long Beach Unified School District, said
only 31 parents, out of 6,700
who received notices, requested transfers.
About half of them withdrew the requests after being informed that the school
they selected was full, he said, and
the district found space for the other half.
Pasadena schools sent letters to the parents of about 3,000 students in six
eligible schools, district spokesman
Erik Nasarenko said.
It received 39 requests for a transfer. Only three were granted. The remainder
were rejected because of lack of
space, Nasarenko said.
The credentialing rule not only requires districts to immediately begin hiring
only fully-qualified teachers in low
performing schools, but also sets a deadline for 2005-06 for all teachers to be
This presents a high hurdle for L.A. Unified, where about 8,000 teachers lack