About 6 percent of the students in the Public Schools of Robeson County are attending schools out of their district — and some parents of the more popular destination sites say the system’s transfer policy, which is basically a green light, causes crowding.
Parents of students at Tanglewood Elementary School recently complained to the Board of Education, saying the high number of transfers to that school were violating state laws capping the number of students in a single classroom.
Tanglewood is actually No. 2 in the county school system in net gain of students because of transfers this school year, behind Prospect Elementary and just ahead of Lumberton Senior High School. School choice, a hotly debated subject across this country, is an unintended consequence of the liberal transfer policy.
It’s a tricky issue — one that doesn’t have a fast and firm fix. The school board, which approves transfers, must balance the needs of parents seeking permission with the available resources at the targeted school, and that can’t be managed scientifically. What is almost guaranteed is that someone will go away mad.
According to information provided by the Public Schools of Robeson County, the system’s transfer policy takes in concerns about health and safety, but a majority of the requests concern pre- and post-school child care and a parent’s wish that a child attend school near where that parent works.
But we all know those concerns don’t account for all of the system’s 1,404 transfers.
Any parent worthy of that title should be relentless that his or her child has access to the best education possible, and it can be said without argument that there is a disparity in the education offered at the county’s schools. That explains why Prospect Elementary, Tanglewood Elementary and Lumberton Senior High are the top three destinations.
The crowding issue would be mitigated — if not vanquished — if this county’s school facilities weren’t out of date, crumbling and stressed by a growing population of students, problems that aren’t unique to the Public Schools of Robeson County. But there is no pool of money to enhance the infrastructure, which is repaired in a piecemeal fashion, and typically after issues become impossible to continue to ignore.
We don’t have an answer, but one student should not benefit at the expense of another. That line, unfortunately, is almost indistinguishable — and the reason that this is a problem that isn’t going away.