COSA policy unfair to Immersion students


Sophomore Callen Frillman’s home school is Northwest, but in order to continue with Chinese, he now attends Churchill.

By Fiona Asbury, Advertising Manager

The Board of Education (BOE) ended the period of public comment on the proposed changes to Policy JEE, Student Transfers on Sept. 30. The proposals include making middle school students reapply for a Change in School Assignment (COSA) in order to remain in their cluster and clarifying the definition of sibling and the language of COSA for siblings whose brother or sister attends a magnet or special program. It also includes requiring students who receive an approved COSA to attend their new school for one year before being eligible to play sports. It will not impact transfer requests for this school year, but would begin in 2014-2015.

While the BOE has yet to decide whether it will accept these changes and which students will be exempt from them, the fact that they are even considering it is ridiculous. Under this new policy, there would be a stricter deadline and fewer groups would be exempt from having to prove a “unique hardship” in the transition from middle school to high school. Immersion students, especially the Chinese Immersion students at CHS, should be exempt from these changes and not have to apply for a COSA that should be guaranteed.

The Immersion program attracts many students because it gives them a chance to start a language at a young age and follow it, ideally all the way through high school. If students are turned away from the opportunity of continuing their Immersion education, they could be turned away from reaching the highest possible level in that language.

If an Immersion student manages to obtain a COSA, there still remains the issue of sports. Many Immersion students are athletes who want to play on their high school team. With the new changes, they would be forced to wait a year before becoming eligible. A year is unnecessarily wasted time.

With each proposed change, the BOE targets problems it found in the county, such as overcrowding; however, Immersion students do not fit into any of these categories. By proposing an increase in the strictness of the COSA policy, the BOE is trying to combat overcrowding and uneven districting. If the BOE feels that the student population is unevenly distributed, they have a say in the districting and can easily create more even school clusters. Some Immersion schools are overcrowded, and the BOE believes turning away Immersion students could fight that, but just a handful of Immersion students does not make an entire school overcrowded.

The BOE also wants to put an end to the recruitment of high school athletes. While admirable, this is somewhat impossible as the BOE really only has jurisdiction over MCPS. Athletes can come from out of state or county, and the BOE cannot do much about it. Additionally, high school athlete recruitment is not a big enough issue in the Churchill district to make an innocent group of students suffer.

If the BOE chooses to accept all proposed changes, it not only limits the possibilities for Immersion students, it also limits the amount of people in MCPS willing to take risks with an uncertain outcome.