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Education Bill Passes the House - But Will It Really Impact American Education

For Immediate Release. December 14, 2001Tragically, the House of Representatives on December 13, 2001, passed the “No Child Left Behind” bill (H.R. 1) which will do little to enhance educational achievement but will increase the federal government’s role in education.  The Senate is expected to pass the measure next week, allowing the President to sign it before Christmas.  The measure increases the size of the already too large out-of-control federal bureaucracy of the Department of Education.  If fully appropriated, the bill will provide in the first year $26.3 billion which would be about $8 billion more than for fiscal budget year 2001.  Furthermore, compared to President Bush’s original proposal the final measure has 13 more programs, fewer opportunities for children to leave failing schools and provides little flexibility to states.

There is little if any correlation between academic performance and higher per-pupil spending in schools which has increased almost 100 percent after inflation, class size which has declined more than 20 percent, and most teachers’ increased educational training (master’s degrees), as school performance has deteriorated and stagnated over the last twenty years.

Few good outcomes have resulted by the attempted federal takeover of education over 35 years ago, when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was first introduced.  This bill reauthorizes the original measure.  Title I of the ESEA, for example, provides funding in areas with high poverty rates.  This program is by far the largest and one of the most regulated federal education programs.  However, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) demonstrates that 60 percent of underprivileged fourth graders still cannot read at a basic level despite the $130 billion spent over the past 30 years specifically for poor children.

Assessment of academic achievement is based on the NAEP.  However, this test will result in only “the basics” being taught because teachers will “teach to the test” teaching only the small percentage of material that will be actually covered on the tests.  This will result in the quality of education being further reduced as curriculums are narrowed and dumbed down to enhance test scores at the expense of learning.  Furthermore, since tests will be used to evaluate schools and teachers, subjects such as science, history and English will be short-changed or possibly omitted since state achievement trends would be confirmed by state NAEP scores on reading and math.

Assistance would be provided for schools whose students failed to make progress, but for continued failure schools would also face corrective action.  However, it has already been demonstrated by the poorly implemented educational reform passed in 1994 that the federal government lacks the willingness to withhold funding from states that fail to make education modification.

According to a statement by Dr. Joel P. Rutkowski, president of the American Voice Institute of Public Policy, “The measure is a costly inconsequential effort at real school reform, providing pseudo school choice by allowing students attending failing schools to transfer to another public or have the right to tutorial success.”

What is lacking in the education bill “No Child Left Behind,” to improve education is the federal government returning power and dollars to parents, teachers and principals.  Studies have demonstrated that true school choice inspires excellence and is integral to accountability.  This omission in the recently passed House bill unfortunately has jeopardized students’ ability to strive for academic excellence.

For Interviews Contact:

Joel P. Rutkowski, P.h.D.
President, The American Voice Institute Of Public Policy

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