NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

State Cuts Hurting National Education Reforms

October 27, 2003

Pressure on states to comply with the 2001 federal reform law, known as the No Child Left Behind Act, has caused protests from national union leaders, Democratic presidential contenders and some state education officials. They claim they would need $8 billion to comply with the ambitious new mandates.

But the critics' concerns about inadequate federal funding are misplaced, says USA Today:

  • Federal spending on poor students alone has increased 33 percent during the past two years.
  • Even if critics got the extra $8 billion in federal funding they've requested, the federal share of local education spending would rise only from 7.6 percent to 9.3 percent.
  • In the Mount Diablo school district in Concord, Calif., all 12 reading specialists were eliminated this year; yet research shows that such early literacy assistance is one of the best ways to meet a national goal of helping poor and minority students.
  • In Norwich, Conn., school officials ended all-day kindergartens and preschool programs; most researchers agree that investments in preschool education yield large academic payoffs.
  • In Cleveland, school officials sliced deeply into summer school -- a valuable resource for inner-city children -- by limiting it only to high school seniors.

Instead of looking for scapegoats in Washington, states should rethink their own commitment to education goals, says USA Today.

Source: Editorial, "State cuts hinder reforms more than U.S. shortfall," USA Today, October 27, 2003.

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