September 20, 2006

Crapo Co-Sponsors Bill To Protect Rural Education, State's Rights

Bill to address extended transfers for rural students

Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo co-sponsored a bill today to protect rural schools by more fully addressing the challenges posed by federally-imposed school transfer requirements. S. 696, the Rural School Geography Act, takes rural concerns into account by not requiring local education agencies to provide a student with the option to transfer to another school if providing the option is impractical due to: the distance to be traveled, a geographical barrier or hazard, or an unusually high cost of travel. Under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, rural schools or districts that do not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements must transfer students to other schools or districts, regardless of the distance to be traveled, geographic barriers, or burdensome cost. â??In education policy, one size does not fit all and itâ??s important that local and state officials have the ability to make the educational choices that are best for each community,â?? Crapo said. â??While children should not be forced to attend schools that are not making the grade, there needs to be flexibility for local officials to allow for the reality of the distance between schools and districts in rural areas. That distance is usually much greater than in urban areas. Unfortunately, current regulations do not address this situation in rural states. This mandate could put severe financial strain on schools that may already be struggling. Transporting a student over long distances to an alternative school leaves a student with less time for homework, extra-curricular activities, family, and work. This legislation makes school transfers a matter for local leaders to decide, rather than leaving the decision to officials in Washington. It is my hope that none of Idahoâ??s schools face this situation; nonetheless, the federal mandate must recognize the rural distances involved and provide for the best solution for the student.â??â??In Idaho, only 33 school districts out of over 100 have more than one elementary school,â?? said Sherri Wood, President of the Idaho Education Association. â??Idaho students will have to travel long distances to attend another school. As a parent, I want whatâ??s best for my child. An arrangement that has a child on a bus for long periods of time just to get to and from school is not conducive to a positive educational experience. We appreciate Senator Crapoâ??s co-sponsorship of this bill, as it will be a positive change to NCLB for the benefit of Idahoâ??s students, parents, and teachers.â??