Priorities for Changing NCLB
Congress says it has provided "unprecedented funding" for education. Educators talk about a funding gap. What's the real story?
It is true that Congress has increased the amount of money it is spending on education. However, the actual costs of meeting the mandates under NCLB far outstrip the small increase in funding.
When NCLB was enacted, Congress promised to provide the funds needed to meet the law's many mandates. But each year since the law was enacted, the gap between the funding written into the law and the funding actually provided has grown, with a cumulative six-year shortfall of over $56 billion. See the enclosed national funding gaps chart. Find information for your state online at NEA's Legislative Action Center.
Is Congress asking schools to do more with less?
Yes. Title I, the key federal program to help our neediest children, is funded at roughly half the level written into the law. And now, under NCLB, school districts are mandated to pay transportation costs for school choice and to pay for supplemental services out of their Title I funds (up to 20 percent of the funds), siphoning off dollars from classrooms. Two-thirds of all school districts had their Title I funds cut this year.
When Congress passed NCLB, it promised $500 million each year to help schools "in need of improvement." To date, NO funds have been provided for school improvement state grants. And teacher quality state grants are funded at less than the level provided three years ago.
Is NEA asking Congress to "throw money at the schools?"
No. NEA is lobbying Congress to provide the funding needed for proven programs and services that help increase the achievement of all students and close the achievement gaps. Funding is essential to support programs that do help children learn, such as:
- Improved assessments for students with disabilities and English language learners
- School improvement programs for schools labeled "in need of improvement"
- Teacher Quality State Grants for ongoing professional development for teachers and paraeducators
- Important related programs and services not included under the law, such as Head Start, IDEA, and children's health care.