January 17, 2003

Latino Children Have Been Left Behind On One Year Anniversary of ‘No Child Left Behind Act’

Washington, D.C. – January 8th was the one-year anniversary of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, touted by the president and Congress as “a landmark in education reform.” Key provisions that would directly help the nation’s most disadvantaged students, including Latino children, however remain unfunded, noted MALDEF, the nation’s premier Latino civil rights organization.

The NCLB Act, as signed into law, is supposed to provide a framework to: close persistent achievement gaps between Latinos and other students; allow Latino parents greater input in school curriculum and management decisions; hold schools accountable for the performance of English language learners; and introduce a school dropout prevention program that would directly aid schools in addressing the Latino dropout rate, which is the highest and most persistent of all student groups over the last three decades.

However, partisan bickering over funding levels has put funding for those key areas on hold. The key measures of an education appropriations bill never made it to a floor vote in either the Senate or the House. The Bush Administration further hampered the progress of Latino children by proposing level-funding of bilingual education in its first two budget proposals; it zero funded the dropout prevention program in its FY03 proposal; and it all together eliminated parent assistance programs in its FY 03 proposal.

“More money is needed for schools, teachers, and pupils to meet the high demands of the act,” said Jim Ferg-Cadima, legislative analyst for MALDEF’s Washington, D.C. office. “ NCLB and other provisions of federal education law are only funded through January 11, 2003. MALDEF calls on the Bush Administration and the 108th Congress to fully fund all provisions of NCLB, including those that directly address the educational barriers that Latinos face.

“Under NCLB, if a school fails to make ‘adequate yearly progress’ they are labeled as ‘in need of improvement.’ At the one year anniversary, both the Administration and Congress have both failed to make adequate yearly progress in doing their part under the NCLB Act.

“The Latino community is evaluating whether or not the Bush Administration and Congress back up their rhetoric with good policy-making, including providing adequate funding for provisions of NCLB that directly address Latino educational needs.”

A national non-profit organization, MALDEF promotes and protects the rights of Latinos through advocacy, community education and outreach, leadership development, higher education scholarships and when necessary, through the legal system.

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