The Farce of Public School Transfers


If you are lucky, you might move your child  from one “average” school to another.

Many public school bureaucrats are anxious about school choice. They worry that engaged parents making choices about their student’s school may threaten the political power of their government school monopoly.

In response to an overwhelming desire by parents for more choices, some clever bureaucrats are re-packaging limited “school transfers” and “open enrollment” and deceptively calling it “public school choice.”

The problem is that parents are left with a narrow range of traditional public schools to select from and school bureaucrats are given wide powers to reject the transfer applications.

Case in point: the Oconee Public School District.

Superintendent Mike Lucas is vitriolic in his dislike of parental choice. He has smugly proclaimed that “I am paid to advocate for the children” and then determined that he and his fellow bureaucrats make better decisions than parents and taxpayers.

Still, in an attempt to appease frustrated community members, the Oconee School Board developed a framework for school transfers that they call “Limited School Choice.”

Limited indeed.

Certainly parents are free to download and fill-out the PDF application and submit it no later than five months prior to the school year. But don’t get your hopes up.

Among the vaguely-worded reasons bureaucrats can cite when rejecting the transfer application are “student behavior,” “space availability” and confusingly, “grades.”

Never mind that certain students might not be well-served by their local public schools and that “behavior” and “grade” issues might by exactly the reason parents would seek out a different classroom for their child. And never mind that many of these students may already have transfer rights guaranteed by Federal Law if they are attending persistently failing schools.

But lets imagine the transfer is not rejected for any of these reasons. There is still a priority list of who gets the transfers.

“The following procedures will be used in determining school choice.

1. First priority will be given to school choice students already attending the school.

2. Second priority will be given to children of SDOC employees working in the attendance area.

3. Third priority will be given to siblings of children already enrolled in the school.

4. If there are slots remaining after 1, 2, and 3 have been fulfilled, a lottery system will be implemented.”

The first group “already attending” would be children of parents who are moving to a different attendance zone. Seems to make some sense. But the second, “children of employees” is given precedence over “siblings of children already enrolled.” That’s  unfair. And then, using an arbitrary “lottery” system for all others is absurd. It speaks to the absolute insanity of public school policy in South Carolina: having your child in a classroom that matches their needs is a matter of chance, not choice.


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