NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Target Education Dollars to Children with the Greatest Need

October 26, 2001

Poor children continue to lag behind their peers from higher-income households on standardized tests in every academic subject. The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act was specifically aimed at serving "the special needs of children of low-income families," but over the years, the scope of ESEA has expanded to include an array of more than 60 programs -- many of which do little to help economically or educationally disadvantaged students.

President Bush's education reform plan, No Child Left Behind, would have consolidated the 61 ESEA programs in several key categories, allowing the states to "have maximum flexibility to determine their priorities" within these divisions. But the House and Senate, which have passed different ESEA authorization bills that must be reconciled, would expand the number of programs rather than consolidate them.

  • According to the Congressional Research Service, the House version, the No Child Left Behind Act (H.R. 1), contains 47 ESEA programs and five non-ESEA programs.
  • The Senate version, the Better Education for Students and Teachers Act (S. 1), authorizes 89 ESEA programs and 12 non-ESEA programs for a total of 101 programs.
  • In an August 13, 2001, letter to House and Senate conferees, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige noted that the Senate bill authorizes more than 70 programs unsought in No Child Left Behind while the House version exceeds the Administration's focused approach by 20 programs.

Analysts say flexibility would allow states and local schools to target funds designated by general categories to programs that best meet their students' needs.

Source: Krista Kafer, "Target Education Dollars to Children with the Greatest Need," Backgrounder No. 1481, October 2, 2001, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, (202) 546-4400.


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