Why lack of funding failed NCLB

In January 2000, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act with great fanfare. The Act had noble intentions and was sold on the guarantee that there would be no student left behind and the strong arm of the government would ensure that the poor would have the same as the rich.

Although the law has noble aims, there is a hug difference between the language and actions of the government. While the law seeks to set high educational standards, the nation’s commitment to wealth to its schools is mediocre. The United States is amongst the least equitable nations when it comes to equality for children. A study by the United Nations Children’s Fund gave the U.S. a low ranking of 21st out of 24 industrialized nations in educational equality. NCLB promised equality for all, but the government has failed to provide funds to meet the cost of turning this promise to reality.

What NCLB has done is that it has raised the standards without providing for the resources. This may have the undesirable effect of setting up many children for failure. While the socio-economic benefits of funding the national educational obligations to the poor and the needy are enormous, the fact is that funding alone will do little to prevent the existing system from randomly denying funds to the schools that need it the most. NCLB holds schools with well educated patents and generous resources and improvised schools to the same standard and does not distinguish between them. The system as it exists today does not recognize that a child with poor parents may not be as focused on education as a child with rich parents.

There are schools that need to make changes in order to improve the performance of their students. Most of these are schools that do not have the resources that other schools in more wealthy communities have. While the schools meeting NCLB receive more funds, the schools which fail are denied the very funds they need to improve. These schools are labeled as failing. Most schools that have been labeled as failing are in poor or diverse neighborhoods.

To improve the education system, the funding must be adequate. There must be new investments, particularly in poor, rural, and inner-city environments not because it is the law but because it is the need of the hour. The major obstacle to funding is not the lack of funds but the lack of political will. As things stand today – tax cuts, sluggish economy, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – the federal government is unlikely to provide funds for improving the education system. From a legal perspective, the federal government cannot be sued to provide adequate funds under NCLB.

NCLB is therefore nothing but a very good example of a law passed with noble intent but not followed in its spirits to achieve its goals.

2 comments to Why lack of funding failed NCLB

  • Dirk

    You are not being truthful. Federal K-12 education funding increased from $27.3 billion in 2001 to $36.3 billion in 2007. What’s worse, you give the impression that NCLB hasn’t yielded positive results, which is also absolutely false. The primary goal was to improve reading and math performance by focusing on the lower percentile students that require additional attention. And these students have achieved record results, with more progress made in 5 years than the previous 28. Wikipedia has a balanced review of NCLB you may want to consider.

    In addition, the idea that accountability is contingent on financing is the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from unionized bureaucrats. “I can’t do my job better unless you pay me more”.

    In this economy, you can expect increasing pressure from- and acceptance of- school choice groups who make the point that private schools provide better outcomes for less money, and that competition and greater access to private schools is the next step in improving our education system. There are a whole lot of retired teachers who would be very happy to teach for less than what they were making five years ago.

    If you want to engage in a philosophical debate about “teaching to the test” and how focusing on core reading and math concepts is not appropriate in this over-programmed internet age, or if NCLB could be improved, at least you can rely on soft epidemiological and predictive musings to support your efforts, but your article is severely damaged by your unwillingness to accurately consider and report factual data.

  • Marie Hobson

    Well I disagree! I find the NCLB Act to be a very big problem. First of all being black and from the hood makes a very big difference. It’s easy to say that yes the Governement is giving money and that’s correct. But it’s another thing to assume that just because we have this money in place it’s going to make the student achieve higher education.

    That is where the problem is. First of all Coming from a poor black family you must realize that at home we do not think, eat or sleep the same as the rich. Each day is a struggle for us and in our homes by far do we get the educational support from our parents that is needed, because first of all most of them do not even have the proper education to support us. Our every day struggle is to make it to the next day. Half of our parents can not read, so how do you expect us to become great readers or good in math.

    It’s a joke! It’s like a slap in our faces. Black students are already far behind their counter-partners (whites) in education and then you expect us to pass this test FCAT or whatever your state may requrie to go to the next level. Please that is just another way to hold back the miniorities, but in the public’s eye it looks like the government is trying to help. I know you that do not understand where I am coming from might disagree, but let me just throw this out to prove my point.

    My own personal experience. I have a Master Degree in Business. Wow that great I made it out the hood! But my math is a less than a 6th grader! How is that possible?

    And if in my time the FCAT would have existed guess what I would have not passed to the next grade or even graduated. Now what impact does that have on me and my mind stated? My moral has just been kicked to the ground. I know hate the school system and the governement. It makes me say the white man is evil and this is his way of still discriminating against me in a legal way. “The American Dream”.

    We for me I was lucky that my state did not beleive in those kind of testing to go to the next grade or where would I be today? More than likely like the rest of my people that have for so long been failed by the US government in prison.

    But thanks to the state of Wisconsin for realizing that just becuase I am not strong in one area doesnt not mean I can’t get the job done!

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