Choice Denied: The Politics of Failure in Howard County Public Schools

A Video Documentary by the Maryland Public Policy Institute



OCTOBER 28, 2008 Bookmark and Share

No Child Left Behind allows for the transfer of students to a more suitable public school. Yet soon before NCLB legislation passed, Howard County instituted a school transfer moratorium. Since then, the county has assigned transfers arbitrarily and rejected many more. One family has been unable to get a transfer for their son, who suffers from a sleep disorder, to a school closer to their home with a later start time. This family is also genuinely concerned about the overall quality and performance of the school in their district.

The school system claims that the moratorium became necessary in recent years because of capacity problems. Yet the moratorium is really not about capacity, as the school system would have people believe. There is a surplus of elementary school capacity countywide, with many schools under 90 percent capacity, and one operating at only 50 percent.

Furthermore, county policy only allows employees to send their children to the school at which they work, yet for the last eight years (while numerous residents were denied transfers), employees have been allowed to choose their children’s schools.In addition, the transfer approval rate for elementary schools that have high poor and minority populations is significantly lower than the average approval rating for elementary schools, suggesting that the school system is discriminating against families districted to those schools. To learn more about Howard County’s arbitrary and ill-placed judgments that affect the lives of many children, watch “Choice Denied.”

Watch Part One of Choice Denied

Watch Part Two of Choice Denied

Watch Part Three of Choice Denied

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Howard’s school transfer policy leaves families behind| parents say