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January 28, 2004, Extra Credit
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January 28, 2004
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 January 26
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Leaving No Homeless Child Behind

Following are excerpts from a recent article in the Tennessean highlighting the educational opportunity No Child Left Behind is providing for homeless students in Tennessee:

"Brandon Matlock wants to stay at West End Middle School, where he plays trombone in the band and gets good grades. It's there that he stopped flunking classes and getting in trouble. And it's there that he has felt safe and happy during the months his family stayed in a homeless shelter. But when his family was offered a spot in public housing miles away in a different school zone, they might have faced a tough choice: move to a place of their own or keep him in the school where he was finally making progress. Luckily, they never had to choose. 'Brandon didn't want to change schools. He was doing so well,' said Sharon Matlock, who is raising Brandon, 11, and two younger siblings on her own."

"Thanks to the federal No Child Left Behind law, homeless students have the option of staying in their schools even if the family's situation forces them to move. The district is required to pick up the tab for busing. 'Just because you are trying to put your life back together, you shouldn't have to give up one stability to have another,' said Catherine Knowles, director of Metro's homeless education program, which provides Brandon with monthly passes to take the city bus to and from school. 'He finally had a school where he was doing well and liked his teachers.'"

"Under the umbrella of NCLB, Congress strengthened the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The federal law, passed in 1987, requires all public schools to change the way they track and educate students who live in shelters or lack a permanent home. It's designed to give homeless students more choices, protection and help so they can stay in school and make the academic progress necessary for them to be successful. 'It's wonderful,' Sharon Matlock said. 'That federal law is essential for a family like ours and the situation we found ourselves in.'"

"Tennessee's schools receive about $885,000 a year in federal funding for homeless services, which is divided among 13 school systems with widespread programs...Under the law, protection for homeless students starts the moment they walk through a school door. They must have access to the same public education, including preschool, as other children. 'They have the right to be immediately enrolled,' Knowles said. ...Once enrolled, the school's homeless liaison works closely with the student—and his or her family—to make sure they get services such as busing, meals and extra tutoring."

The complete article is available online.

U.S. Department of Education guidance for homeless students under No Child Left Behind is available online at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/homeless/guidance.doc

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Last Modified: 01/16/2008