What Are the Real Reasons Students Are Transferring? How Can We Fix This? (by Guest Blogger Christine Yim)


Choice is a luxury in the United States of America and so is education – or so we thought. I’d like to think that this statement is true but not when education comes in sometimes distasteful conditions. What are we providing to students that others are not getting?  Is there an underlying issue here that needs to be confronted which has been driving the hot debate about Portland’s transfer policy?

Pertaining to the above article, there seems to be numerous pros and cons that need consideration. Firstly, Portland’s transfer policy offers parents the freedom of choice for where they wish to have their student attend school. This can be essential in making sure their kids are receiving the preferred education or focusing on a specific program that may not otherwise have been offered at the school in their district. What screams democracy more than this, right?

But when parents take their kids away from a school and transfer to another one, they’re also taking away the funds that help keep a school functioning. As discussed in our Senior Capstone class at Portland State, we have a “per-pupil” spending that follows a student wherever they go. As this may be viewed as a positive in the freedom it gives parents for transferring, what else can it mean for the school they leave behind?

Not only does the funding decrease in the school being transferred away from, there is less diversity as a result as well. As mentioned in the article, low-income families may not take advantage of “focus-option” programs because of their lack of transportation for students. Thus, families who can afford such a resource, may then use these focus-option programs to their benefit.


13 thoughts on “What Are the Real Reasons Students Are Transferring? How Can We Fix This? (by Guest Blogger Christine Yim)

  1. The ability to transfer does indeed leave the school being left, in the dust. It has been argued that the ability to transfer creates competition, that is the more poorly performing schools will work harder to reach the performance level of their competitors, that is where the students are leaving to. However, as you said, the funding goes with the student! So, if so many students are leaving and taking all of their funding with them to an already superior school, how is the poor-performance school actually in need of the funding, expected to compete at all?

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking also. It creates a dead-end point for the poor-performance schools. It does not promote educational equity but rather a more “laizzes-faire” type of concept which is used in our market economy. To see that this same idea is being practiced on schools seems unsettling in that it does not have our children’s best interests at heart.

  2. I can understand why we have the option to send our students to whichever school we choose, but there are clearly negatives that come from that. It seems to me that if kids would stay in schools in their area, there would be more equal funding.

  3. It’s not just the issue of transportation that stops families from being able to grasp these transfer opportunities, time has an important factor in it as well. Families who have better paying jobs have the ability to work less or take the better working hours, thus having spare time to be involved in school related issues. They can attended meetings, do research, talk to the school, and basically get involved. There involvement results in there opportunity to learn about all these different programs, thus allowing them to seize these “better” options. A family who has a low paying job doesn’t have such luxuries. They work overtime, they take the unwanted hours (because they usually make a few cents more) and their always tired when they get home. They don’t have the luxuries of finding out about different schools because their more worried about feeding their families. I’m sure they would find a way to get their kids to these “better” schools if they knew about them, so long as it doesn’t cost extra. I see time as being a huge factor for what is holding back these families.

    • Rose, I thought you brought up a great point in the transfer debate. Parents who have more money and can work less can spend more time with school issues. They have the time to research and review their options and pick the best. Lower class families want the best education for their children also, but they don’t have the time and resources to do so. I really think its disheartening when realizing the gap we have between lower and upper class families and the difference in the amount of time the parents can put towards their child’s school and education.
      It’s really hard to choose which side is right, should their be transfers, or no? If all students had the opportunity to transfer, would the students really benefit, the schools, the parents? Instead of running away from the problem schools why don’t we stay and fix the problems!

  4. I definitely agree that Portland’s transfer policy leaves the school that the student is opting to not attend in the dust. And we are just digging these poor performance schools deeper and deeper into a hole of poor performance rates. Unless we change our policy and start putting more efforts into these poor performance schools it is going to be a never ending cycle. We need to give the schools that have the highest number of students transferring out the most attention and focus on how to bring students back into those schools.

  5. When students transfer they are definitely taking away resources from the school they are leaving behind. Especially, since those who are able to transfer probably have parents who are able to drive them to their new schools and maybe even parents who don’t work and have free time. If parents put more effort in making their neighborhood schools better and putting in volunteer time, maybe they could fix the issue of ever wanting to transfer their student in the first place. I think it’s unfair poorer schools get the worst of the worst and students transferring out are just continuing this trend and leaving these schools behind.

  6. This answers a question I had about an earlier blog post about funding. Thanks for addressing this.

    Withdrawal of financial support both from local governing bodies and from taxpaying residents is the most impactful way that struggling schools get “punished” for being “bad” and not delivering satisfactory results based on standardized scoring methods.

    But is this really the most effective way to fix the public school system? I don’t think that inadvertent homogenization of a school’s demographic is the answer. It’s part of the problem.

  7. I don’t think “transportation” may be the only issue for parents who can’t transfer their kids out to a different or “better” school. I feel parents, an example: Latino parents are too busy working and trying to pay the bills that don’t have the time to attend school meetings to be aware of the opportunities or services that the district is offering to them.
    I feel bad about the funds also going with the pupil but as an adult who is thinking about the future I will also do anything that’s in my power for my future children to receive a good education.

  8. Transferring can be a good thing and a bad thing. I think it is wrong to take that choice away from parents because it is their right where to send their child but it does take away from the schools. There is a no win situation for this but I do think there needs to be more guidelines about transferring not just because the demographic but because if the child is being bully or travel wise for the parent they may work closer to this school so for them to go there makes since because they can drop them off easier. But I know when I am a parent I am going to want the very best for my child and if I did not like the school they had to go to I would fight to get my child where I wanted him/her to be.

  9. Transferring schools is a tricky topic. I feel like all the students and parents that are well-informed about the “better” schools will take the opportunity to transfer. But what happens when this “good school” becomes over crowded. Doesn’t the “good schools” rate of success go down because of the larger class sizes? I feel like allowing families to transfer where ever they want just creates a cycle. Once the “good school” becomes over-crowded, families will most likely move their student elsewhere continuing the cycle.

  10. If we want to boost our schools and have all around great education, then we need to have a fairly even amount of diversity in all schools. All of you hit the nail on the head, we are indeed digging ourselves into a deeper hole. How can certain schools be expected to survive if their resources keep decreasing? (i.e. money???).
    Another thing, is that if a school has had a significant amount of students transfer out of that school, what does that do to their overall reputation? That can be frowned upon by other families and students and decrease the chances of a family sending their child to go to school there and that in turn decreases the amount of money they have. That can spread and many people could then think differently of that school…

  11. It seems as though transferring is a by-product of bigger issues or bigger differences in economic and class-standing. Families that are able to provide for the arrangements and extra commute time, pick up’s and drop off’s, and cater to a different system and schedule than perhaps that of their “neighborhood school” are at a benefit already based on being able to make those adjustments. These particular families who have the economic freedom or independence to do this also are more likely to have more spare time to dedicate to children’s educational needs, be more involved in the classroom or school community in general. I think that the transfer issue makes it even more difficult than it is already for lower income schools to succeed, or excel, and that it leaves them to more than likely, fail.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s