Charleston County School Board members who are looking for ways to bolster attendance at failing schools are looking in the wrong direction.

Pressuring parents to keep their children in a failing school isn't the answer. Providing an excellent education at that school is.

The board's Policy and Personnel Committee wants to require parents to meet with their neighborhood school principal before requesting a transfer to another school.

Members want the principals to have a chance to give those parents an accurate picture of the school they are trying to avoid. Maybe they'll decide not to transfer.

More likely, they'll be just more disgruntled at having the school board put another obstacle in their way.

The conversation is being driven by schools that are operating far below capacity. But the best way to keep students at a school, or lure new students to the school, is to produce the kind of results that parents want for their children.

That's not to say that it's a waste of time for parents to talk with their neighborhood school principal. But if the board wants to issue a new fiat, they should insist that the principals make the effort to contact parents who want their children to attend another school.

Doing so would show interest and initiative that might impress the parents and even sway their decision. And, who knows, the principals might learn something from talking to parents.

Chances are that those parents who go to the trouble to request a transfer for their children are parents who are committed to their children's education, and who have spent time looking into the pros and cons of individual schools. Requiring them to visit a school they have already decided isn't the right place for their children is a waste of their time, and the principal's.

Further, the system already demands parents to get permission from the constituent board or boards involved.

The school board is scheduled to consider the committee's recommendation at its July 28 meeting.

A better conversation would be about how to improve academics at schools that aren't up the mark.

Making the grade will do more to fill empty desks than another mandate.