Guest Column: Will Washington keep its promise to our students

Guest Column: Will Washington keep its promise to our students


“Federal funding remains in doubt as

local school districts face severe budget cuts

In America’s schools, class sizes are ballooning. It’s increasingly difficult to recruit and retain well-qualified teachers for our inner city and rural schools. A quarter of our nation’s eighth grade students read at “below basic” levels. Between 9th and 12th grades, 1.4 million of our children will drop out of high school. Of those who enter college, close to 30 percent will have to take remedial courses in reading, writing, or math.

States across the country are facing rapidly growing budget crises—the worst since World War II. Governors and state legislators are being forced to slash education funding in order to meet balanced budget mandates.

Yet, even as states and local school districts cut vital services and lay off teachers, doubts are being raised about whether Washington will fulfill its promise to fully fund the No Child Left Behind Act, the landmark education legislation put forward by President Bush. Congress has yet to decide, for example about how much federal money should be invested in the next school year. The U.S. Senate wants to add $6.5 billion in new investments over and above the President’s budget while the House has proposed practically no increases.

This is NOT the time for the federal government to renege on its commitment to improve the educational opportunities offered to our nation’s most at-risk children. If Washington turns its back, millions of children will be left behind.

The Alliance for Excellent Education, a national non-profit organization advocating on behalf of America’s six million at-risk middle and high school students, is urging Congress and the President to agree to the Senate’s $6.5 billion education investment. This investment is a necessary down payment on the promises made in the President’s No Child Left Behind Act. It would help our schools and students meet the requirements of the new law and work toward the goal of raising student achievement in every classroom in the country. This investment must be enacted if we are going to give every child the opportunity to graduate from high school, prepared for college.

At a time when homeland security is such a priority for the nation, we must remember that investing in our children’s future is our best defense.

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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a national policy, advocacy, and research organization created to help middle and high school students receive an excellent education. The Alliance focuses on America’s six million most at-risk secondary school students—those in the lowest achievement quartile—who are most likely to leave school without a diploma or to graduate unprepared for a productive future. Based in Washington, DC, we work to make it possible for these students to achieve high standards and graduate prepared for college and success in life.

Our audience includes parents, teachers, and students, as well as the federal, state, and local policy communities, education organizations, the media, and a concerned public. To inform the national debate about education policies and options, we produce reports and other materials, make presentations at meetings and conferences, brief policymakers and the press, and provide timely information to a wide audience via our bi-weekly newsletter and regularly updated web site,

If you receive this message via forwarding and would like to be added to our mailing list, send a message with “subscribe” in the subject line to Jason Amos at To remove your name from our mailing list, simply reply to this email with “remove” in the subject line.

Susan Frost is the executive director of the Alliance for Excellent Education. For further reference, the Alliance’s Web site contains an analysis of the President’s new budget proposal and how it affects middle school and high school students, as well as a look at selected “State of the State” addresses from across the nation and the problem that governors and state legislators are facing with budget deficits and potential spending cuts. Link:

For questions or comments contact Cynthia Harlow Sadler at 202/842-4888 or

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