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Richard D. Kahlenberg’s Commentary on student transfers under the No Child Left Behind Act (“Helping Children Move From Bad Schools to Good Ones,” June 21, 2006) misses the point, as does the federal law itself. Moving students is not the answer—improving schools is.
No one wants to talk about increasing funding, however, as this strategy is nearly always shot down as a waste of resources. But increasing funding for “bad” schools would not be just throwing money at the problem; instead, it would provide a solution by making all schools good. (If money is not the answer, then why do the best private schools often cost more than $30,000 a year to attend?) In Chicago, many schools operate on the state minimum of $4,500 per pupil per year. Very few of these schools are considered “good.” That designation is reserved for the suburban and magnet schools that spend closer to $12,000 per pupil. Give the “bad” schools new buildings and $12,000 per student, and watch them improve.
Increased funding, moreover, would result in higher salaries, and with higher salaries would come better teachers and administrators. Educators then would no longer cut their teeth in tough, low-paying districts, only to move to higher-paying schools once they had proved themselves. Furthermore, if all schools were to pay high salaries, teaching would become a much more marketable profession to college students considering an education major. This would increase the number of teachers and improve the profession nationwide.
Moving students around is not the answer. Maintaining excellent neighborhood schools for all children is.
Lyons Township High School
La Grange, Ill.
A version of this article appeared in the July 26, 2006 edition of Education Week as Moving Children Around Does Not Improve Schools