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NCLB Orders "Make Room In the Inn!" Or Else.

Think about this assertion: "Under the law, in cases where schools are at capacity, education officials must create additional classroom space elsewhere for students."

So schools defined as "successful" by the Feds will have to set up pup tents for students transferring out of schools defined as "failures?"

A top Bush education official yesterday warned that New York City and other school systems can't use crowded conditions an excuse to avoid complying with the new federal law allowing students to transfer out of failing schools. "School districts can't use capacity as an excuse to deny public school choice," U.S. Undersecretary of Education Eugene Hickok told The Post.

Hickok is overseeing implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Hickok said well-regarded schools are obligated to accept students from low-performing schools, as long as there are seats available.

"I don't care about schools - I care about kids," Hickok said.

About 280,000 students in 331 Big Apple schools that are designated as low-performing are eligible to transfer. But only 1,500 students did so this year - less than 1 percent.

Meanwhile, many parents have complained that forcing their schools to crowd classes with transferring students from other neighborhoods could undo efforts to lower class size.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn/Queens) wants to amend the federal law to exempt the city and other school districts from financial penalties and legal liability for rejecting transfers because of crowded conditions.

But Hickok insisted, "You can't deny a kid a seat because it might hurt a school's image. To hear someone make that argument is disappointing."

Under the law, in cases where schools are at capacity, education officials must create additional classroom space elsewhere for students.

They could, for example, create more charter schools.

"A school district must find ways to provide opportunities and options for students," Hickok said.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein promises to abide by the law.

"The chancellor is committed to complying with the law while not increasing class size," said his spokesman, David Chai.

A group of parents has filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that the city has already violated federal law this year by denying thousands of transfers and failing to adequately notify parents about tutoring services that must be made available.

The parents' lawyer, Charlie King, charged yesterday that city Department of Education officials have refused a compromise offer granting immediate transfers to other schools in exchange for dropping the suit.

Klein spokeswoman Margie Feinberg insisted that the city is in compliance with the law and that the chancellor is committed to "transfer children out of low-performing schools."

— Carl Campanile
Class 'Room' Crunch
New York Post
Feb. 27, 2003


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