Thursday, March 15, 2007

Harkin Calls Bush's Education Funding "Laughable"

It's got to be difficult for guys like Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), two men who truly seem to grasp the power of government to make a positive difference in peoples' lives, to deal with a White House and Republican colleagues who have no problem wasting $400 billion on a pointless war, but who go pale at the notion of spending a fraction of that to care for the sick or to educate children.

Harkin talked about that earlier this week at a meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee when he addressed the chronic neglect of George W. Bush's very own No Child Left Behind (NCLB) plan.

“When I voted for the No Child Left Behind Act five years ago, I did so with the understanding that President Bush would work with Congress to provide schools with the resources they need to implement the law," said Harkin. "The administration had negotiated closely with Members of Congress on the authorization levels, and I took the President at his word that he would take those levels seriously."

“Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. Year after year, the President sends us a budget that comes nowhere close to funding No Child Left Behind at an adequate level."

Harkin then went on to spell out exactly how NCLB was clearly meant as a façade for Bush's "compassionate conservatism" and, based on the incredible way it's been shortchanged, how it was obviously never meant to succeed.

“The numbers have gotten almost laughable," said Harkin. "The President’s FY08 budget underfunds NCLB by $14.8 billion, for a cumulative shortfall of $70.9 billion since enactment of the law. Funding for Title I alone – the cornerstone of the law – would be shortchanged by $11.1 billion, for a cumulative shortfall of $54.7 billion."

Almost $55 billion short. Amazing.

It would be nice if the corporate media would spent just a tiny bit more time reporting on something like this -- though Bush's low polling numbers in education indicate that Americans understand he is a fake in that area too -- and less time talking about Anna Nicole Smith or Britney Spears.

Harkin said that placing greater demand on the states to have their schools perform better is fine but that the federal government has not "… given them the resources they need to meet those demands."

"We should not be requiring the majority of school districts to make huge improvements in student achievement at the same time we’re cutting their funding," concluded the Iowa Senator. "I assure you: Before I vote to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, I will insist that it’s adequately funded."