An Education In Common Sense

Very quietly, a national revolt may be brewing over President Bush’s refusal to fully fund his signature education initiative, the No Child Left Behind Act. Today, the Washington Post reports the nation’s largest teachers’ union, the National Education Association, joined school districts in Michigan, Texas and Vermont in filing a federal lawsuit against the Department of Education for failing to provide adequate funding for the No Child Left Behind initiative.

That news comes just one day after the ultra conservative Utah State Legislature passed a measure giving state education standards priority over federal ones imposed by the No Child Left Behind Act. Legislators from both houses voted in favor of the law despite warnings from Education Secretary Margaret Spellings “that they ran the risk of losing $76 million in federal funding.” “I’d just as soon they take the stinking money and go back to Washington with it,” said Republican house member Steve Mascaro.

These are far from isolated problems. While the Bush administration meekly repeats the claim it has raised funding for education, a study completed in March by the Center on Education Policy found “only 11 states felt NCLB allocations were adequate for them to provide technical assistance to all schools identified for improvement”:

Around 80 percent of local districts surveyed, said they had costs associated with implementing NCLB that were not covered by federal funds, such as the costs of training teachers to meet NCLB qualifications, providing remedial services to students performing below grade level, and carrying out mandatory data collection and analysis.

New Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has been promoting a new, “common sense” approach to No Child Left Behind. But the only “common sense” the states appear to be interested in is proper funding for the new requirements that the law has thrust upon them.