Sunday, September 18, 2016

Voluntary transfers, continued

Last week, the board started discussing what exceptions we should make (if any) to our usual voluntary transfer rules as we transition to new boundaries and the opening of a new high school. I think it’s important to lay out a clear set of rules, so the administration will know who is and who isn’t subject to an exception. Since there are conflicting value judgments involved in deciding where to draw the lines, I think it makes sense for the board to decide the rules.

Some board members seemed doubtful that we could anticipate in advance all of the situations that might merit special treatment. I think it can be done, and I think it’s better to have clear rules than to rely on a discretionary case-by-case approach. But this is definitely an enterprise where multiple heads are better than one, so I’m looking for reader input here.

If you’re not directly affected by this issue (and maybe even if you are!), you will find this a long, boring discussion. But if you have any thoughts about what follows, and especially if you can think of other categories of student that might need to be addressed, please chime in with a comment. I express my own opinion in some places along the way; but sometimes I am just identifying multiple approaches that the board could consider.

I’m linking to the remainder of this discussion, since I had trouble duplicating the formatting here on blogger.

Previous post here.


Anonymous said...

Reading your post made my head hurt. Are we publishing a codified book of ICCSD voluntary transfers and an implementation manual of it? I would want to say, forget all this, I can just move next to a school that I like and be sure that I will attend that school. Wait a minute, that is not going to work either. It didn't work for the Kirkwood families!

Chris said...

I hear you, Anonymous. It made my head hurt, too.

Less wordy said...

Simplified Secondary Rules

1. If you start at a secondary school, the student can stay at the school
2. A younger sibling may go to the school if they will be attending the school within the same three year period as the older sibling. The younger sibling can stay for all four years (or for junior high the two)
3. Extreme hardship/unusual/bullying cases will be taken up by the ICCSD on a case by case basis.
4. If any of schools have room, student may attend with rule one and two applying

Elementary Rules
1. Students must attend their home school for Kindergarten (it seems like parents should at least try their home school for a year)
2. Students could transfer out starting in 1st grade if another school has room
3. Siblings would be able to attend the same school if they would be at the school as the same time as older sibling and (then finish out)
4. Student may transfer once and then stay at the new school
5.Extreme hardship/unusual/bullying cases will be taken up by the ICCSD on a case by case basis.

Chris said...

Less wordy -- Thanks for the comment. We'd still need rules about just who can and can't remain in their old school after new boundaries take effect. (We've already decided, for example, that Liberty freshmen and sophomores won't have that option.) I would also continue to root for some particular exceptions (for example, the Van Allen and Lincoln/SE ones) which I don't think would otherwise be caught, even at the expense of making the policy longer.

Your elementary rule #4 would probably meet some resistance. Six years is a long time to guarantee that there will be space for a transferee. At least one board member appears to think that we should not guarantee elementary renewals other than in the sixth-grade capstone year, to incentivize people to stay in their home attendance areas.

Rule #3 might also meet some resistance. Imagine a sixth grader from the small piece of Van Allen that will be redistricted into Wickham. If we allow the sixth grader to finish out 2019-20, we'd have to let her 1st grade brother stay there through 2024-25. But that child might also have a younger sibling, who would also be allowed to stay and finish at Van Allen, etc. My sense was that the board (me included) was reluctant to get into a sibling rule that could extend that far into the future.

But I agree that the final policy or guideline does not need to be as long as this post. Once we work through the different policy choices, the final document can just state the rules and leave out the explanations and examples.

I also agree that the hardship rule is the easiest. The district already has a hardship rule, and it parallels the rule for open-enrollment out of the district for cause. The district should just keep on doing what it's doing on that issue.

Anonymous said...

Will there be any rule restricting voluntary transfers to/from a school if it makes the FRL percentage too high or too low? Would that be legal?

Anonymous said...

There is no legal protection from economic discrimination. The board can do what they want to the people of the district under the socioeconomic argument. It does not matter that the district states they will not discriminate based on socioeconomic status, legally, they can.

Anonymous said...

Lynch will figure out a way to get more current Wickham kids into Liberty, probably by moving more current Van Allen kids out of Liberty. If left to the discretion of Murley, this is exactly what will happen. And Liberty will become whiter and richer and more geographic boundaries with the exception of Kirkwood being bused in for balance.

I'm for the lottery. Done in a public manner with verification afterwards that all had an equal chance of selection.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the amorphous school district with its ever changing boundaries and rules of come and go.

Year to year adjustments and changes. Where it stops nobody knows.
Lincoln at West? Lincoln at City? Van Allen at Liberty, maybe at West. Wickham here, Wickham there. Who goes to Horn? Who goes there? Close Hoover, one of the best. Keep this experiment going and no one will rest.

And the district? Ah, more time and more shifts they will say, we are almost there, we have almost arrived, at nowhere.

Where did all the good people go?

Amy said...

Under "hardship", please advocate for poor families that will not be able to get their kids to school without either busing or risk of job loss, particularly at the elementary level. What I mean by that:

Suppose you've got a family that can't afford a car or for one reason or another has no adult that can drive the child to or from school (no license, disability, a job that doesn't afford this sort of flexibility, etc.). This means any instance of the kid missing the bus to the new, farther-away school -- a doctor's appointment, oversleeping, anything -- means the child is likely to miss school that day. It also means the child can't reliably participate in any after-school program that means missing the bus home.

I've found that the default solution that well-off people will give is to suggest the family find someone to help with driving. That works for well-off people because they socialize with people who can grant these favors, they can return the favors, and they don't usually need regular help, or they have well-off family with leisure to pitch in. In their worlds, it's a viable solution.

In the world of a poor parent without a car, though, it is not a viable solution. One, there isn't likely to be a handy grandma or aunt around who'll jump in the minivan and go. Two, even if they can find a friend to help out, they cannot reciprocate, which puts and end to favor-trading pretty fast. Three, they don't have lively social lives with well-off families. There's a good chance that between trying to scrape out a living at $10/hr and take care of family, they don't have much social life at all, and their friends are likely to be as poor as they are.

So as irritating as it may be to the well-off to hear "finding someone else to pitch in is not a workable solution for these people; their circumstances are not like yours", it's a thing they likely need to hear again and again and again as they push poor families to shoulder the burden of making the FRL numbers line up nicely. These families really need to be at schools they can get to and from readily without driving there.

Mary M said...


If the district intends to let (and perhaps even encourage through its policies) a critical mass of children to attend a different junior high than the one that is associated with the high school they will attend, then the district should decouple the junior highs from the high schools. Otherwise, these children and their parents will hear for two years about a high school they will not attend. There are also junior high events that are held at their feeder high schools, and the children will wear (and sometimes purchase) colors for two years that they will not feel comfortable in when they are in high school due to the present set up. Further, there will be information coming from their assigned high schools that is unlikely to reach the kids who do not attend the feeder junior highs (including events that will happen in the summer--e.g. music camps, sports camps, etc.). The board needs to ensure that ALL junior high students receive information that allows them to fully participate in their high schools, wherever they may be.

In a region where the junior highs do not line up geographically with the high schools, it would make sense to at least calculate whether equity could be improved by not having feeder junior highs.

Also, the junior highs deserve more attention to ensure that rigor and pacing of curriculum among all of the junior highs is similar.

Anonymous said...

Mary M - please explain how you believe " the junior highs do not line up geographically with the high schools."

East Side IC is SE and feeds City.
West IC and S CV is NorthWest and feeds West.
North Central is North central and feeds Liberty.

With the way our district is shaped, this seems like they are in the right spots to me.

Mary M said...

Simple, some families are closer to a couple of the junior highs over the third, and one of these junior highs is not necessarily the same junior high that lines up with the high school that they would currently be assigned to. As an example, and for those unfamiliar with the district, NWJH is over 3 miles from West High School, not next door.

Anonymous said...

Mary - that doesn't sound all that off to me. Kinda sounds like someone with some sort of an agenda is trying to make a problem where none exists.