Tuesday, June 21, 2005

NCLB Funds Enrich For-Profit Companies, Study Says

This is a crucial piece if you want to know about who profits from NCLB and through what mechanisms. -Angela

Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU)


Contact: Gerald Bracey (703) 317-1716 (email) or Alex
Molnar (480) 965-1886 (email)

Tempe, Ariz. (Tuesday, June 21, 2005)- No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) funds
flow from the government, through the states, and into the hands of private,
for-profit companies, according to "No Child Left Behind: Where Does the
Money Go?" a policy brief released by the Education Policy Studies
Laboratory at Arizona State University.

The brief's author, Gerald Bracey, finds that the money schools and
districts spend on implementing NCLB requirements and on sanctions for
failing to meet NCLB achievement goals are funneled mostly to private
companies in the testing, curriculum, and Supplemental Education Services
(SES) industries. Some of these companies have close ties to President
George W. Bush and his family. In addition, Bracey says testing companies
and SES providers are rarely held to the same level of accountability that
NCLB demands of public schools.

"It is clear that several billions of taxpayer dollars will be spent each
year and it is equally clear that, at present, no real process of
accountability is in place to monitor where the money is spent or how
effectively it is spent," Bracey wrote. "History shows that under such
conditions money is wasted and fraudulent expenditures are likely."

Through an analysis of the essential workings of NCLB, highlighting inherent
costs of the law and costs that come with each successive year of failing to
make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), this brief found the following:

--According to a Government Accounting Office study, NCLB funds cover only
the cost of testing all Title I students on a multiple-choice format. If a
district or state wants to test all schools (not just Title I schools) or
include open-ended questions, costs would exceed revenue.

--Reading First, a $1 billion a year federally funded primary reading
program, requires states to apply for funds. The states' proposed programs
must pass a panel of experts, many of whom have authored approved Reading
First curriculum materials. States use a narrow range of criteria to
approve their Reading First grants to districts, the criteria favoring
programs authored by some of those who also wrote the criteria.

--President Bush's ties with Harold McGraw III of McGraw-Hill (a testing and
textbook publishing company), lobbyist Sandy Kress, and
researchers-turned-appointees have caused conflicts of interest and the
appearance of an "interlocking directorate."

--After the second consecutive year of failing to make AYP, students are
given the choice to transfer to a "successful" school, and the
transportation costs are to be paid by the "failing" school. This
school-choice option has not worked as envisioned, and few students have

--After the third consecutive year of failing to make AYP, schools are
expected to offer Supplemental Education Services (SES). More than 1,800
companies have their name on various state SES approved-provider lists.
Twenty-three of the 25 most listed SES providers are for-profit companies.

--Unlike public schools, SES companies are not required to hire
"highly-qualified" teachers.

--SES companies are not held to the level of accountability expected of
public schools because U.S. Department of Education officials have said they
want "as little regulation [of SES providers] as possible so the market [for
SES] can be as vibrant as possible." It is unknown if these services
increase student achievement.

Bracey calls on the U.S. Department of Education to establish policies and
procedures to account for the money and to hold private companies to the
same standards of accountability which it demands of public schools.

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