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April 26, 2005

Federal funding for cities/counties now tied to NCLB.

-- by Thomas Leavitt

In the face of a growing backlash against the unrealistic and continually escalating demands imposed on local schools, districts and even state governments (in more than a few cases, lead by Republican-dominated states), the Bush Administration has apparently decided to up the ante for those choosing to resist: if your area's schools aren't meeting NCLB standards, the surrounding cities and county could possibly lose hundreds of millions in federal funding under a consolidated competitive community block grant program (which is already being cut by 35% as it is).

More information about the Strengthening America’s Communities Initiative (don't you love how every single one of Bush's programs does the opposite of what it is called?) can be found on the Commerce Dept. web site... but when I took a look, all I saw was propaganda and bureaucratese. My life is too short to spend digging through this B.S. when obviously more interested parties have already done so.

The article below arrived in my email box via one of the activist lists I'm on. As far as I can tell, the article (and the publication it came from, "Federal Grants & Contracts Weekly", Vol. 29, No. 18 April 25, 2005) are not available on-line, and subscriptions are $300+ a year. Therefore, I'm going to post it verbatim, under the "fair use" and "public benefit" provisions of copyright law (I've written the person who originally forwarded the article for a copy of the PDF version she sourced it from).

Here's the money quote, from David Shreve, education committee director for the National Conference of State Legislatures:

"The detail is not important here — what's important here is that they have put as a condition for being eligible for the competitive grants a requirement for the community to demonstrate schools are meeting AYP goals," Shreve said. "Any communities that even thought about going their own way [by with-drawing from NCLB] would not be eligible for some of the money."

No kidding.

Another excerpt (the full article follows):

At issue is the president's Strengthening America's Communities initiative, which would consolidate 18 community and economic development programs, including the CDBG. The programs are housed across several federal agencies; CDBG is administered by the Housing and Urban Development Department. The president requested $3.7 billion for the new consolidated program, a 35 percent reduction in funding from all the programs combined, critics said. [My emphasis. -TL]


Page 1: Bush would tie city funds to school progress under NCLB

Local governments stand to lose hundreds
of millions in economic development
funding if their schools do not perform to
the standards under the No Child Left
Behind Act.

Under the president's fiscal 2006 budget,
counties and cities would be eligible for a
portion of a new economic development fund
only if their schools make adequate yearly
progress under NCLB.

Page 7

Bush would tie city funds to progress under NCLB (cont.)

The NCLB aspect of the proposal caught
local officials by surprise, as they have been
focusing their fight on preserving the 30-year-old
Community Development Block Grants,
which the president wants to consolidate into
other programs.

"Someone has to explain to me the connection
between meeting the AYP goals and the
need for community development," said David
Shreve, education committee director for the
National Conference of State Legislatures. "Can
you afford to wait to improve your community
until your schools improve, or is it something
you need to do right away?"

Funds hinge on NCLB

At issue is the president's Strengthening
America's Communities initiative, which would
consolidate 18 community and economic development
programs, including the CDBG. The
programs are housed across several federal
agencies; CDBG is administered by the Housing
and Urban Development Department.
The president requested $3.7 billion for the
new consolidated program, a 35 percent reduction
in funding from all the programs combined,
critics said.

Part of the $3.7 billion would pay for a competitive
bonus grant program for low-income
communities that have demonstrated "readiness
for development," according to the budget
proposal. The indicators for these "development-
ready" communities include: schools
meeting NCLB's AYP goals, reducing violent
crime rates and regulatory barriers to
businesses.

Ed Rosado, legislative director for the
National Association of Counties, said tying the
funding to NCLB makes little sense because
counties and cities do not directly control
schools.

"County governments don't have [direct]
responsibilities in dealing with schools," he
said. "How are we going to be graded when we
don't have the ability to make changes to the
school systems to qualify for the grant? It would
not be a fair criterion placed across the board
on all counties and cities."

Sprouting effect

It is unclear how much money local govern-ments
could lose due to school performance.
The Commerce Department, which would over-see
the new initiative, is still ironing out the
details of eligibility and funding distribution, a
spokesman said.

In box:

NCLB a `good' yardstick

Schools' success under the No Child Left Behind
Act is a good measure for determining whether a
community produces an educated workforce, said
David Bearden, principal deputy assistant secretary of
commerce for economic development.

That's why NCLB is included as an indicator of
"development-ready" community under the president's
proposal, he said. "We think using the annual progress
standard under NCLB is a good method of determining
results."

An interim advisory committee, assembled by the
Commerce Department, will recommend specific
eligibility criteria for funding distribution.
Approximately $200 to 300 million of the $3.7 billion
could be used for a competitive bonus grant; the
majority of the funds would be distributed by a formula
driven by poverty and unemployment rates, Bearden
said.

Regardless, local officials appeared more
troubled at the prospect of NCLB expanding to
affect the distribution of other federal funds
outside of those administered by the Education
Department than they were about how much
they stood to lose.

"The detail is not important here — what's
important here is that they have put as a condition
for being eligible for the competitive
grants a requirement for the community to
demonstrate schools are meeting AYP goals,"
Shreve said. "Any communities that even
thought about going their own way [by with-drawing
from NCLB] would not be eligible for
some of the money."

County, city officials and mayors have
publicly criticized Bush's economic development
proposal. Now they fear NCLB will further
prevent them from accessing these funds.
Lelia Allen, housing director for Orlando,
Fla., said the school system in Orange County
faces many challenges in meeting federal and
state standards. Last year, all but two high
schools received grades of D or F under Florida's
accountability system.

Allen said she is "perplexed" by the president's
proposal. Florida "has some very stringent
requirements with NCLB," she added. "To
tie [NCLB performance] to a funding source
that creates safety and well being for children
so they can learn better ... I feel I am missing
something from the proposal."

For more on the president's proposal, see
www.commerce.gov/SACI/.

Katherine Shek

Sheck is a report for sister publicaton,
Education Daily.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at April 26, 2005 6:12 PM

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Comments

Maybe they are saying it takes a village to raise a child?

Posted by: grannyinsanity at April 26, 2005 8:56 PM

Fascism.

(someone had to say it)

Posted by: Thomas Ware at April 26, 2005 10:18 PM

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