Dossier: Back to School

The percentage of schools that during the 2002–03 school year flunked the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act were 5 percent in Alabama, 14 percent in Wyoming, 40 percent in Illinois, and 76 percent in Florida … 99 percent of California schools are projected to fail proficiency tests after subjected to 12 years of NCLB policies … Texas claimed a 91-percent proficiency rate in mathematics among eighth-graders before the NCLB assessment … after AYP standards were put into place, Texas had a proficiency rate of only 24 percent … In 2004, several schools in Houston were found to have falsified drop-out rates to receive bonuses of $5,000 for principals … The man in charge of the district, Rod Paige, became President Bush's first-term secretary of education, and Houston became the model for the NCLB … Since the NCLB was signed into law in 2002, appropriations have been more and more scarce, shortchanging the legislation by $4.2 billion in 2002, $5.4 billion in 2003, $7.5 billion in 2004, and $9.4 billion in 2005 … This totals nearly $27 billion less than promised over four years … Projected requests for funding from the Bush administration for fiscal year 2006 undercut the program by $13.1 billion … The proposed 2006 budget devotes $56 billion to the Department of Education … This is a reduction of half a billion dollars from FY 2005 and represents about 2 percent of the $2.57 trillion total proposed budget … By contrast, the Department of Defense would get 16.3 percent and the Department of Homeland Security 11.4 percent of Bush's proposed budget … School vouchers for the District of Columbia were repeatedly voted down, until they were included in Bush's $328 billion omnibus spending bill … A California vouchers proposal that could have cost up to $1.1 billion annually was defeated in 2000 in a 71 percent to 29 percent vote … Milwaukee's school voucher program paid out $80 million in vouchers to 13,000 children in 2003–04 … This led to cuts in state aid to Wisconsin's other 425 districts … The charter-school program in Ohio doled out 60 contracts to profit-seeking companies and opened 15 charter schools before lawmakers appointed an oversight board … Those 15 schools had first-year test scores that were dramatically lower than those of public schools … A new study shows that, on average, public schools outperform private schools in mathematics at every socioeconomic level … Between 1999 and 2000, only 18 percent of private schools offered a separate gifted-and-talented program to their students, compared with 68 percent of public schools.