The Washington Post today has an excellent article that presents the ten biggest myths and misunderstandings of the No Child Left Behind legislation and the truth behind them. There are many good points in the article but this is one that needs to be repeated.
The law’s critics acknowledge that the federal government is breaking records on education spending. Still, that money represents only about 7 percent of total government spending on public education. The majority of funding comes from states and local governments. Also, the law is forcing schools that accept federal funds to spend more on transportation, administrative staffing and other requirements, which gobble up much, if not all, of the extra federal money.
Too many people believe that the federal government is responsible for large chunks of the money spent on public education. But the big problem is not that they only provide 7% of the total (not necessarily 7% of your local school budget). The larger issue is that Congress, following it’s practice with many other laws, includes a long list of requirements which they don’t pay for. As noted, some school systems find they are spending more on federal mandates than Congress provides and many are seriously considering rejecting the money so they don’t have to follow the rules.