Wyden Calls on President Bush to Deliver Promised Education Funds
White House budget plan shortchanges Oregon schools by $69 million
Washington, DC - As he continues statewide listening sessions on Federal education policy during visits to Redmond, Salem and Pendleton this week, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today called on President Bush to "reverse course" on his decision to only partially fund the "No Child Left Behind" law, after a White House announcement indicated that the largest single program in the law will be underfunded by a whopping $7 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2005. The president signed No Child Left Behind into law with a FY2005 funding authorization of $200 million for Oregon alone, but the White House's actual budget request now contains $69 million less for the state.
"This kind of underfunding doesn't represent educational promise for Oregon's students, just a broken promise to their schools and communities," said Wyden. "The President needs to understand that his failure to support this law with adequate dollars will leave children behind across Oregon and nationwide."
Numerous concerns about No Child Left Behind among school boards, parents, school administrators and teachers across the state prompted Wyden to begin a series of "listening sessions" last month to better understand how the law is actually being implemented in Oregon schools. While a variety of proposals have been made to Wyden to address problems with the law, thus far school leaders and parents have told Wyden uniformly that it is impossible to meet the law's strict requirements for boosting test scores and student performance without the promised Federal financial support.
In a letter to the president today, Wyden wrote, "Oregon schools have long held themselves to high standards and real accountability and they support the ideal of leaving no child behind. These same schools, however, must be given the resources necessary to make leaving no child behind a reality. I ask that you increase your budget request and work with the Congress to ensure that the students of Oregon and the nation receive the funding promised by No Child Left Behind." The president's budget request is not due to be delivered to Congress until February 2, 2004, which leaves the White House ample time to adjust its education numbers.
Wyden has supported full funding for No Child Left Behind since its enactment in 2002; however, the President has never requested full funding. In 2003, Wyden supported an amendment that would have provided full funding for No Child Left Behind, increasing Federal support by $6.15 billion to match the level already authorized in the law. A motion to allow the amendment to come to a vote on the Senate floor failed, 51-44.