No Educator Left Behind is a series providing answers from the U.S. Department of Education to questions about the federal No Child Left Behind Act and how it will affect educators. If you have a question about No Child Left Behind, send an e-mail to Ellen Delisio, and we will submit your question to the Department of Education.
What is the government's plan to adequately fund our schools?
With Hurricane Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other demands on the federal budget, it can seem like education has taken a backseat. That is not the case, however. Federal funding for K-12 education is up 33 percent since 2001, including a 45 percent increase for Title I schools serving the neediest students. Funding for special education grants to states under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has risen from $6.3 billion to $10.7 billion, a 68 percent increase. Including the current proposed budget, total federal education spending for Louisiana is 33 percent higher than when President Bush took office.
Another important source of funds has been post-hurricane relief. Earlier this month more than $1.1 billion was made available under the Hurricane Education Recovery Act to reopen schools in the Gulf Coast region and educate displaced students across the country. Since January, nearly half a billion dollars has been sent to Louisiana for education support.
As important as what we've spent on education is how we've spent it. For years, we poured new money into the same old system, which yielded the same outcomes: stagnant reading and math scores and a growing achievement gap. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, high standards and accountability have been added to the equation, yielding real reform and results.
In Louisiana, fourth-grade proficiency in reading and math is up three points since 2002, and the achievement gap between black and white students in fourth-grade reading has decreased by four points. In fact, statewide scores for the Iowa Test of Basic Skills have risen in every grade each of the past two years. I am confident in the continued annual improvement of your state's schools as we shoot for the goal of full student proficiency by 2014.
Read previous questions and answers in our No Educator Left Behind archive.