The most important issue for Americans is ensuring that their children have access to a high quality education. Parents are concerned about the quality of the education their children are receiving in local school districts across the country. When they look at our public schools, America’s parents want improved performance, highly-qualified teachers, safer schools, and after-school opportunities.
But Republicans aren’t listening. When the No Child Left Behind Act was enacted in January 2002, the promise was made to combine tough accountability standards with enough money to get the job done. Everyone at the time agreed that it would be wasteful to spend more money on schools without reform, but that it would be unfair to enact reforms without adequate funding. Substantial funding coupled with clear demands for better results from every student made this law historic.
But the promise has been broken. Over the last five years, Congress and the Administration have shortchanged our schools over $56.7 billion compared to what was promised in the law. States, school districts, and schools have been struggling to comply with the law, but the promised federal resources have not been provided.
Now the GOP has pushed through a Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill for FY 2007 that falls another $16.4 billion short of what was promised by No Child Left Behind. The areas covered by No Child Left Behind include such areas as raising student achievement, teacher training, safe and drug-free schools, and after-school learning opportunities. On issue after issue, the GOP bill fails to live up to the promises made by No Child Left Behind.
Democrats Want Congress to Keep Its K-12 Promises
In contrast, Democrats are fighting to keep the promises that Congress made to children and parents by investing in education reform. In addition, Democrats are putting forward a number of key education proposals that address the concerns of America’s parents.
House Democrats have introduced legislation to attract and retain highly qualified teachers for all of America’s public schools. This bill, called the TEACH Act, would increase the supply of outstanding teachers; ensure all children have teachers with expertise in the subjects they teach; identify and reward the best teachers; and keep the best teachers and principals in our schools.
Democrats have also introduced the Keep Our Promise to America’s Children and Teachers Act (PACT Act). This legislation makes clear that Democrats stand for keeping our commitment to fully fund No Child Left Behind as well as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. As Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the bill’s chief sponsor, has pointed out, “It’s time to keep our promises to the children of America. There’s been lots of talk about giving schoolchildren the resources they need to succeed; now it is time for reality to match the rhetoric.”
House Democrats know that a good education is critical to the success of our children and our future, and will continue the fight to make quality education accessible and affordable to every American.