Guest Author - Tracey-Kay Caldwell
Children are our future. What a president says about children in the State of the Union address, can tell you how he feels about the future. In his 2006 State of the Union address Bush expressed concern for the future of the nation’s economy, if our children do not better in math and science. He proposed the “American Competitiveness Initiative” to address these concerns. The program would result in the recruiting of 70,000 new math and science teachers and encourage 30,000 private sector math and science professionals to teach in the schools. However, since the proposed fiscal 2006 budget decreases funding for elementary and secondary educational programs, one can only assume that the funding for these new teachers will fall to the states.
States are already having great difficulty meeting the financial burdens placed on them by No Child Left Behind. Fifty percent of US schools lack the resources to implement No Child Left Behind standards. In addition, 37 states say they do not sufficient staff to carry out the administrative duties mandated by No Child Left Behind. No Child Left Behind was under funded by 12 billion dollars resulting in 3 million children not receiving the assistance in math and reading that the program promised. In addition to under funding of No Child Left Behind, since the introduction of No Child Left Behind, Title I has been under funded by 39 billion dollars. Even though Headstart has only been able to afford to service sixty percent of eligible preschoolers, its funding will be frozen resulting in the cutting of another 25,000 children this year. Bush’s budget provided 3.5 billion less for special education than was promised in the IDEA Improvement Act. Bilingual education is frozen for the fourth row in a year. The budget eliminates 496 million from the Educational Technology State Grant program and 1.3 billion from vocational education programs. Proposing another education program without funding does nothing for the future of our children or our economy.
Even if programs at the elementary and secondary level were fully funded, to be competitive in a global market our children need higher-level math and science degrees. However, Bush has made it even more difficult for low and middle-income families to send their children to college by cutting grant and loan programs that would finance that education. If Bush is truly concerned that in the future we will not be able to compete in a global market because we lack math and science skills, he will need to fund educational programs fully from pre-school through college. Math and science skills are not developed overnight and must be fully supported throughout a child’s education.