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ESEA Alert
July 24, 2003

National Education Association ESEA/NCLB Alert July 24, 2003

Welcome to the National Education Association weekly ESEA/NCLB alert.The alert is to provide you with the best and latest information on NCLB/ESEA.
Table of Contents
  1. Legislative Update:: Senate Education Funding Fight Delayed Until September
  2. NCLB and Broken Promises:
  3. Department of Education News: "Highly Qualified" Help?
  4. State News: North Carolina Test Scores
  5. Studies and Reports: Urban Scores
  6. Quote of the Week
News

  1. Legislative Update:
    The Senate's decision to delay a vote on S.1356, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill provides more time to advocate for needed increases in funding for NCLB and other education programs. The current bill would actually cut NCLB funding by $200 million below last year's levels, and fall $8.4 billion short of the amounts promised in NCLB. Overall, it provides only a $1.5 billion or a 2.8 percent increase for all education programs over FY 2003 funding levels, falls $781 million below the NEA-opposed bill HR 2660 passed in June and is $1.5 billion short of the $3 billion increase in educational funding promised in the proposed FY 2004 budget resolution. In terms of promised funding, S.1356 is $1.2 billion short for IDEA and $334 million short of Title I funding. The fiscal year 2004 appropriations bill passed by the House earlier this month is $700 million short of the overall $3 billion promised in its budget resolution. Amendments are expected to be offered on the Senate floor in September to increase funding for Title I, IDEA, Teacher Quality and after school programs. For additional details, check www.nea.org/lac.
    www.nea.org/lac.

  2. NCLB and Broken Promises:
    NEA's Joel Packer got quite an earful Friday when he attended the Congressional hearing on the gap in funding for NCLB jointly sponsored by the House Budget Committee Democrats and the Senate Democratic Policy Committees. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA)and Rep. George Miller both had harsh words for President Bush for breaking his promise to provide resources to pay for NCLB reforms. "They both said the gap between promised NCLB authorizations has gotten bigger each year--$4.2 billion for FY02, $5.4 in FY03 and $9.4 billion under Bush proposed FY04 budget," Packer said. Individuals from three other organizations later testified before the committee. Krista Kafer, an education policy analyst at the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, cited a 1999 U.S. Education report that says "additional funding for education will not automatically and necessarily generate student achievement and has not led to higher achievement in the past." Wendy Puriefoy, President of the Public Education Network, begged to differ. "What's the result of funding the law at billions of dollars less than what was authorized at a time when states and communities are in the worst budget crunch in 50 years?" she asked. John Porter, principal of T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA., agreed. "NCLB promised to be, at least at this point, yet another law passed without the funding necessary to implement the initiative," he said.

  3. Department of Education News
    The Department of Education has launched what it calls an effort to help states and educators meet the highly qualified standards of No Child Left Behind. The Teacher Assistance Corps announced by Education Secretary Rod Paige, part of the Department's never-ending battle to link teacher certification requirements to student achievment, will be composed of a team of education experts, researchers and educators. Their job is to offer guidance and feedback to states trying to meet NCLB's highly qualified guidelines. Not only will Corps workers "clarify issues that have been confused by misunderstanding and misinformation,' Paige says they will also provide useful information about promising practices in other states. Participation is voluntary. Perhaps Secretary Paige made his annoucement in response to a General Accounting Office report released last week that said states need more "highly qualified" help from the Department of Education in setting teacher quality standards. Before they can determine whether teachers meet the "highly qualified" definition under Title I of NCLB, the GAO said states need more information on--and assistance with professional development programs, best practices related to teacher quality, and incentives to draw teachers into high-poverty schools. According to GAO, school officials, especially in high-poverty districts, complain that outside testing, they don't have the information or data systems to evaluate the subject area knowledge of current teachers by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. NEA's take: The proposed Teacher Assistance Corps may be helpful to some states, but it ignores the real issues: the lack of resources and the need for additional flexibility. It won't change the fact that the President proposes to cut funding for Teacher Quality State Grants by $81 million, for Math-Science Partnerships by $88 million, and to eliminate the $62 million Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers Technology Program. View the report at www.gao.gov/new.items/d03631.pdf.
    www.gao.gov/new.items/d03631.pdf.

  4. State News
    News that fewer than half of North Carolina schools score high enough of state assessment test to meet new federal AYP standards required by the No Child Left Behind, does not sit well with NEA. According to the Raleigh News and Observer, some of the "in need of improvement"schools might be punished if they don't show significant improvement during the 2003-2004 school year-including nineteen in Wake County, six in Johnston and two in Chatham that get federal Title I funds because of their high percentage of low-income students. Ironically, at least nine "in need of improvement" schools under the NCLB were recognized as "Schools of Achievement: under the state's ABC accountability system. This disparity is likely to fuel more debate over NCLB's sole reliance on assessement tests. "These counties have some of the best school systems in the state," NEA Executive John Wilson, a former North Carolina teacher, said of the counties with the largest number "in need of improvement" schools.

  5. Studies and Reports
    Students in six urban school districts--Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, D.C., and New York City-did not score as well on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests in reading and writing as their peers in other sections of the country. The six school districts agreed to set the urban benchmark, which allowed NAEP to compare fourth and eighth graders from these cities with other students around the country. In view of the fact that the scores of students in these urban centers were below the national average, "It's impossible to believe that the nation as a whole can raise its educational performance and meet its academic goals unless the kids in the cities as well," says Michael Casserly, Executive Director of the Council of the Great Schools, a coalition of large urban districts. Before the 2002 tests, NAEP only measured state and national performance.

  6. Quote of the Week
    "There is no one size fits all prescription for student achievement... Funding is fundamental to reform. Had there been resources to support education reform, the goals of NCLB would have been a reality long ago. By fixing and funding NCLB, we will ensure that Congress keeps its promise, and we will ensure great public schools for every child."-NEA President Reg Weaver, in response to a USA Today editorial critical of NEA's proposed lawsuit over the lack of ESEA/NCLB funding. The article and President Weaver's response are available at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2003 -07-21-ourview_x.htm(editorial) and http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2003-07-21oppose_x.htm (NEA's reponse).
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2003 -07-21-ourview_x.htm(editorial) and http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2003-07-21oppose_x.htm (NEA's reponse).

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