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NCLB Outrages

State Could End Up Paying More Than Expected For NCLB Law

If you read clear to the bottom, you'll see that according to a report commissioned by the legislature, it would cost the state about $40 million and towns and cities hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with NCLB through 2008.

By Dan Pearson

Hartford — A financial report released Wednesday by the state Department of Education shows that the state will receive less federal education funding this year than last year.

State Education Commissioner Betty J. Sternberg said the report indicates that Connecticut will now bear more of a financial burden associated with the No Child Left Behind Act than originally believed.

“In the beginning there were increases (in funding). But they have leveled off. So now we're actually in worse shape than we thought,” Sternberg said. “When (the federal government) talks about increases, it harkens back to an earlier time. They know the new numbers as well as we do.”

The State Board of Education accepted a report Wednesday on state and federal funding that found that state funding for education will increase by $144 million, or nearly 7 percent, in 2005-06, while overall federal funding will decrease by about $755,000, or less than one percent.

According to the report, federal grants for NCLB and Title I grants, which provide funding for students in the state's poorest districts, will decrease by about 3 and 1 percent, respectively.

The decrease in federal funding is significant in its relation to costs for the state and its municipalities, which must comply with NCLB, a law that seeks to improve public education by making schools more accountable for their students' performance on standardized tests.

Connecticut has become the first state to sue the federal government over NCLB, claiming it is an illegal, unfunded mandate that violates both a state law and a provision in NCLB itself that prohibits a state from spending its own money to comply with the law. The state has argued that money required for testing would be better spent on programs, such as preschool.

Responding to the state, the federal government has repeatedly said that it has provided historic funding increases to enable states to pay for NCLB compliance. Sternberg said the report reaffirms that this claim refers to increases that occurred shortly after passage of the law.

Earlier this year, the legislature commissioned a cost study that found that it would cost the state about $40 million and towns and cities hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with the law through 2008. Sternberg said Wednesday, however, that the projections were based on the state receiving “flat funding,” as it did in 2004-05. Since the state is now receiving less in federal funds, the NCLB costs to both the state and towns and cities will rise even more.

— Dan Pearson
The Day


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