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Public Statements

Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

REAUTHORIZATION OF NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND -- (House of Representatives - September 06, 2007)

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, with all the various important issues that we have been debating on the floor, we should remember one very important issue dealing with education of our children that will be considered here in the House very soon, and, most specifically, that deals with the reauthorization of NCLB, No Child Left Behind.

So I come to the floor tonight to address some of the concerns and problems with NCLB and offer a possible solution. That solution, by the way, is the legislation I have submitted, H.R. 3177, the LEARN Act, the Local Education Authority Returns Now, allowing States and parents and local communities to regain control of their education and not have it be here in Washington, DC.

As we're all aware, NCLB is really simply a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act, that's ESEA, from the 1960s. What I've done is I've looked back over the past reauthorizations of ESEA, and I've noticed a very troubling trend. With every single reauthorization, new problems are always found for America's schools, and with every new problem, the solution is always more Federal involvement.

You know, all the way back in 1983, almost a quarter of a century ago, a famous report came out. It was called, ``A Nation at Risk,'' and it said that America had fallen dangerously behind the rest of the world in education; but, today, new studies are saying much the same thing.

According to the National Center for Education Science, in 2003 U.S. fourth graders were outperformed by their peers in eleven other countries, including four Asian countries and seven European countries. U.S. eighth graders were outperformed by their peers in nine countries, including five Asian and four European.

Yet, today, as a percentage of GDP after NCLB, we are still spending more money on education now than at any time in U.S. history. We have increased the paperwork, the requirements for the teachers, more taxpayer dollars, increased administration's burden; but we've decreased the flexibility for the teachers and the power in the classroom.

So let me just present two charts, and I would like to thank the work of Dr. Anthony Davies of the Donahue Graduate School of Business of Duquesne University, to make this point. If we look at this chart, the chart shows noninstructional spending and instructional spending in our schools. The top is eighth graders. The bottom is fourth graders.

The first chart is noninstructional spending. That is the spending that we use for the buildings, the transportation and the like. You would think that with all these reforms that we have done, that with the increase in spending, you would see an increase in performance. Well, what does the chart actually show? Well, the top chart, again, is eighth graders, and what it's showing is, as you see at the left-hand side of the chart, $3,000 per pupil; on the far side of the chart, $6,500 per pupil. But the performance of the students stays basically the same, regardless of how the dollars coming from Washington are spent.

The next color, the red dots, are fourth graders, exactly the same thing. Regardless of whether we're spending around $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 or $6,000, the instructional value of those dollars coming out of these programs, the numbers stay essentially the same.

The next chart you look at confirms the same point. This is instructional spending. These are the dollars that actually make their way into the classroom. This is for the books. This is for the teachers. This is what you really think of when you think of education. Same thing: top is eighth graders, bottom is fourth graders. It starts at $2,500 and goes up to $7,500. You would think that with these reforms of NCLB, you would think that with additional dollars going into the classrooms you would see an increase actually in the performance for these grades. But what do we actually see on the chart?

Well, for the top, the eighth graders, starting at $2,500, up to $5,000, up to $7,500, the numbers for them for the performance on these scores, under the NAEP score standards, and that's the national standards of assessments for kids, the numbers are even right across the chart. Likewise, on the bottom part of this chart, that's the fourth graders, the red little squares. Again, we're looking in the same dollar values, $2,500 up to $7,500, middle it's around $5,000. How do we look at the NAEP scores? How do they change? Basically, not at all. It's in a range here of between 420 and 480 for all those students regardless of the spending of the dollars.

So the point of these two charts, and, again, I appreciate the work of Anthony Davies for compiling this information, is to show that throughout history the Federal Government looks to say that there's a problem with Americans' education. We say we're going to be the solution for our children in this country, and the solution is going to be what? Well, last time it was NCLB, No Child Left Behind, and now it's going to potentially be a reauthorization of that. I suggest no.

And I would conclude by saying that the solution is not more work on the Federal level, but more control by the parent and the local school board for the raising of their own children.

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