Will States Be Left Behind Without Funds for NCLBA?
July 25, 2002
President George W. BUSH's
recently signed “No Child Left Behind” bill will add federal education
standards for the first time in U.S. History, but will federal money
follow the new mandates being placed on states?
That's the question asked
Wednesday at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
annual meeting by NCSL staffer Dave SHREVE to the Federal
Budget and Taxation Committee. The answer is still up in the air. The
new law requires states to test third-eighth graders in reading, math
and (later) science, which federal officials initially thought they
could cover with a one-time payment to states of $400 million.
Further study now shows it
will take $400 million to develop and administer a nationally required
test, with each state guaranteed $3 million and the rest being divvied
up depending on a state's size.
Shreve said the money for
this new mandate has not been appropriated at the federal level, nor
has the $20-$100 million per state that will be necessary to develop a
computer system to process the throng of data the new federal
Six states currently have
the capability to keep the test scores of every single student and
categorize it by race, gender and family income, among other
subsections, as required by the feds. Some states, like Georgia, need
to start from scratch.
Then there's the “high
quality teaching” requirement starting this school year that raises
the standards local school districts must use to hire new teachers.
More qualified teachers will demand higher salaries, but the federal
government has not set aside money for this either, Shreve said.
“Some school districts do
nothing more than a breath test. They hold a mirror under the nose of
the applicant and if there's evidence of breath, they're hired,”
Shreve said. “If you raise the standards, it's safe to say you'll have
to pay more.”
The new law requires state
intervention in the case of failing schools. States like Nevada only
have one person in its department of education to handle this type of
function. With standards set under this legislation, officials there
believe it will take 10 staffers. Who will pay those salaries? Where
is the money going to come from if schools are not able to meet the
expectations set by “No Child Left Behind?”
“At a time when state
revenues are crashing like the stock market, how are you going to set
aside the resources to meet these new expenditures?” Shreve asked.