Jake—in comment that he left on my recent post about recommendations made by the National TOY team on revisions to NCLB—noted that the original list wasn’t terribly specific. He reminded me that I hadn’t started my strand sharing the rationale provided by the National TOYs for each of their ten recommendations! I figured today would be a great day to start….so here’s the rationale written by the TOY team for recommendation 1:
Fully fund all education and assessment programs that are federally mandated.
Unfunded mandates create an undue burden on local and state resources. If a program is important enough to be mandated, then it should also be funded.
Why the change is needed:
If our schools are going to ensure each student has success with high expectations and standards that include a rigorous and comprehensive curriculum, Congress should insist on the full funding of ESEA programs at their authorized levels.
NCLB regulations state that “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to authorize an officer or employee of the Federal Government to mandate, direct, or control a State, local education agency, or school’s curriculum, program of instruction, or allocation of State or local resources, or mandate a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs ot paid for under this chapter”. We believe that this section of the law should be enforced with vigor equal to that being applied to states and schools to meet Adequate Yearly Progress.
As educators, we have learned that there is a big difference between what is authorized (how much Congress knows we should spend) and actual funding (what resources are provided to meet our students’ needs).
Since its 2002 inception, the President has failed to request and the Congress has failed to appropriate funding levels promised in the NCLB Act. In 2002, Congress authorized $26.4 billion and only appropriated $22.2 billion. Each year since, the gap has grown wider. In the current fiscal year, 2007, $39.4 billion is authorized but only $23.7 billion was appropriated. President Bush’s education budget for 2008 is no better. Using 2007’s authorization level (NCLB is not authorized beyond 2007) of $39.4 billion, the President has requested only $24.6 billion. If Congress accepts the President’s request, it would bring the cumulative shortfall since enactment to $70.9 billion.
Oklahoma school districts struggle with the fact that federal program teachers must be rehired prior to the time they are notified of the amount of funds they will get for the year. School districts are then forced to come up with the money to pay the salary at a time when their federal funds are being cut.
Just this past week, one of the TOYS was told by her principal that their elementary “lost money” because there are a few schools within her district that did not meet AYP and therefore face sanctions–tutoring, transportation–that must be paid with district funds. The money has to be diverted from schools experiencing success in the district to those who are not – “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”. Some schools do need additional funds to meet the needs of challenging populations, but to take it away from successful schools within the same district may put other schools at risk. We could ultimately end up in a “ping-pong” match, redirecting of funds to a new/needy source every year.