Friday, March 12, 2004

No. 5 in a series on school finance



The federal government's latest name for the nationalization of education is called ''No Child Left Behind.'' It used to be ''Goals 2000.'' Before that, it was ''America 2000.'' The whole deal started off under President Lyndon B. Johnson as the ''Elementary and Secondary Education Act,'' or ESEA.

For openers, I’ve been saying for years that the feds are not SPOSED to be involved in K-12 education under the U.S. Constitution, and we need to get our schools OUT of federal funding or they'll be ruined. It's happening right before our eyes, though most people are still blind to it. WAH! Fed-ed programs are 'way too expensive, strip us of local control, the standards and assessments they force on us are baloney, and they take the focus off academics and put it on to a philosophy of K-12 education that is a lot closer to socialism than the American way.

However, we're STUCK with fed-ed, for the time being, until state legislatures and school boards wake up and withdraw from federal funding. Until they spit out the federal teat, we'll have to deal with NCLB. It's drawing quite a bit of fire from both liberals and conservatives, for different reasons. There's a good, moderate explanation of common propaganda about the bill from the American Legislative Exchange Council, ''Myths & Facts on No Child Left Behind'':


Today, we’ll share selected items from that piece that cover school finance issues with NCLB. Don’t miss #10:


MYTH #1. NCLB is an unfunded mandate that forces states to comply with a one-size-fits-all education system.

FACT: The President and Congress have not only fully funded these higher standards, but states are also empowered with a great deal of flexibility as they implement these goals. With the high standards for public elementary and secondary education that NCLB sets forth comes a $6.4 billion or a 28.5 percent increase in federal education dollars. Instead of binding funding to many specific programs that are not proven effective to increase academic achievement, federal funding is now correlated to several broad areas, such as academic achievement, high quality teachers, parental choice, and accountability, for states to find methods that best suit them.

MYTH #5. Seeking advanced certification will put financial burdens on teachers.

FACT: The federal law includes new tools and flexibility for teachers. Federal funding for teacher programs is being increased by 38 percent, from $787 million to $2.85 billion, to help states train, recruit, and retain quality teachers.

MYTH #7. Schools in need of improvement will lose federal funding.

FACT: To the contrary, there are no financial penalties for schools that do not make adequate yearly progress. In fact, states must set aside a portion of their Title I funds that is expressly marked to provide schools in need of improvement additional assistance.

MYTH #8. Schools must pay for tutors, instead of using money on general school improvements.

FACT: If a school is deemed in need of improvement for three consecutive years, the district must provide a supplemental education service option. This service can be paid for with a portion of the Title I funds that states that will have explicitly for schools in need of improvement. States can choose from a variety of options regarding supplemental services, including public or private sector providers, to offer students tutoring, additional classes, or individualized education assistance. These new options for families and students are significant steps to help children trapped in failing school systems have a chance at a successful education.

MYTH #10. More money will fix the nation's education problems.

FACT: The problem with America’s education system has not been a lack of funding, but a lack of accountability for the money our schools spend. Despite America's multibillion dollar investments in public education, students still have lower performance records than their foreign counterparts, and the achievement gap between rich, poor, white, and minority students is still wide. In the past 20 years, per pupil funding has increased by an average of $2,269 in real dollars, but Scholastic Aptitude Test scores have declined, and 74 percent of public school eighth graders who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress in mathematics failed to reach the proficiency level. In response to this discrepancy, NCLB takes significant steps to fundamentally change the education establishment that has seemed to be content with stagnant test scores and rigid programs. NCLB creates a partnership between the state and federal governments to create higher standards and increase accountability so to increase student academic achievement.

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