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NCLB Outrages

More Blah, Blah, Blah from New York Times Editorial

Ohanian Comment: Claiming that what's wrong with the No Child Left Behind Act is federal failure to provide full funding is ignorant--and dangerous. Too many educationists go along with this--because they want more money.

Let's not sell out principle--and kids--for 30 pieces of silver. According to the Times, NCLB is 30% underfunded; it's 90% wrong.

Tough Start to the School Year

any of the 50 million American children who return to public school this week will be carrying a good deal more than lunch boxes. Faced with a dismal economy and deep budget cuts, some schools are asking families to contribute basic supplies like paper, pencils and even soap. Others are charging students steep fees to join athletic teams. Worst of all, teacher layoffs are driving up class sizes and jeopardizing enrichment programs that have been shown to improve student performance.

Almost every state and a great many localities are suffering from budget crises this year. That should not become an excuse for abandoning the national effort to raise standards and improve the schools that was set in motion by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. But keeping reform on track will be impossible if President Bush and his party continue to mandate expensive new reforms without providing the money to get the job done.

When the Bush administration first indicated that it wanted to require states to eliminate the achievement gap between rich and poor students by 2014, states with large poor populations were hesitant, believing that the federal government would never ante up the necessary dollars. This turned out to be the case, when the House shortchanged No Child Left Behind by about 30 percent, providing $6 billion less than Congress originally called for when it authorized the bill.

The White House has played the same game of bait and switch with Head Start, the valuable federal education program that prepares underprivileged 3- and 4-year-olds for kindergarten. Any serious effort to close the achievement gap between rich and poor children should begin by strengthening and expanding Head Start, which now serves only about a million children. But the Head Start bill that was spirited through the House last month can be reasonably described as perhaps the worst, most penurious version since the program was created in 1965. It dramatically raises the educational requirements for Head Start teachers but provides no money for training or salaries. It also includes a financing cap that does not even keep up with inflation.

School reform is a long, incremental progress that requires a well-financed effort, sustained over time. Setting lofty goals while failing to back them up with the needed cash is worse than doing nothing at all. It breeds cynicism and hopelessness, reinforcing the mediocre status quo. If the administration continues along its current path, the opportunity for school reform will surely slip away.

— Editorial
Tough Start to a New School Year
New York Times


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