No Relief for Education in Bush's State of the Union
President Bush's 2004 State of the Union address left the education community, once again, concerned that there is little relief in sight for our nation's struggling public education system. National PTA, on behalf of 6 million parents across the country, is dismayed that the president continues to fail to provide the resources necessary to fulfill the promises of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and has not recognized increased education funding as a top priority for his administration in 2004.
President Bush remarked that America is "a nation called to great responsibilities," but let us not forget our most important responsibility-our children. With 90 percent of our nation's children attending public schools, it is our duty to ensure that policies affecting children, families, and public education remain a top priority, no matter what new issues confront us as a nation. The array of international and domestic priorities on the president's agenda are continuing to overshadow the issues facing our public schools-and families are paying the price. The president's 2004 budget proposal continues to leave NCLB under-funded by an estimated $9 billion, leaving parents across the nation continuing to shoulder the financial burdens of their children's cash-strapped schools.
NCLB will continue to fall short of its goals until it is adequately funded and reformed to meet the current needs of our schools. With more than 25 percent of U.S. public schools failing to meet the performance requirements of NCLB in 2003, it is clear that schools are simply not being given the resources necessary to successfully implement the law. Additionally, it is a basic education principle that standardized testing is not the only way to identify and help students who have fallen behind. The solution instead lies with decreased class size, highly qualified teachers and adequate funding for public education.
National PTA will continue to work with its members to protect public education and increase educational opportunities for every child at the local, state, and federal level. It is critical that the Bush administration fully support NCLB and fulfill its promise to fund programs to improve public education and give every child the opportunity to attend a high-quality public school. Only when we make children, families, and public education top priorities will we ensure that truly no child will be left behind.#
Linda Hodge is President, National PTA.