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Pontiac Parent Tells How Funding Crunch Hits Home

It's easy for Vera Burdette to do the math: Budget cuts do not add up for her 12-year-old son Corderro. The seventh grader at Lincoln Elementary School in Pontiac, Mich., sits in a classroom with little heat, and each day the cash-strapped school asks for a little more from home: scissors, Kleenex tissues. Burdette appreciates the teachers who dig deep into their pockets to help, but she feels it's a burden that should never have been imposed.

"Every day something is being removed from our classrooms because of lack of funding," she said. "There's no money."

Under the so-called "No Child Left Behind" law, states are being shortchanged as the federal government creates new costly rules and regulations without adequate funding.

"The funding will change future lives," Burdette says. "It's critical that the money is here and wherever it's needed. It will make a difference. It would cut down on dropouts."

The 10,000-student district is already grappling with finding and keeping special-needs teachers. Emotionally impaired and gifted children alike are suffering from the lack of attention.

"We shouldn't have to send our kids somewhere else. We should have it inside our schools," she said.

Burdette is an example of why the National Education Association (NEA) and the Pontiac school district, as lead plaintiff in a suit against the federal bureaucrats, simply want the Administration to follow its own law and either provide adequate funding or stop unfairly labeling schools as "failing" and teachers as "unqualified," and forcing parents to use their own local taxpayer dollars to meet these new federal mandates.

"It's critical now," said Burdette, who is concerned about her son's future. "What are the next two to three years going to hold? We're lacking too much as it is."

NEA Issues in Education


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