News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- On the one-year anniversary of the "No Child Left Behind Act" being signed into law, Sen. Patty Murray today called for the federal government to live up to its promise and increase the federal commitment to education.

Murray, who serves on both the Senate's authorizing and appropriating committees for education funding, joined 41 Senators in a letter to President Bush today predicting the law would fail without "a substantial increase in resources."

In the letter, the Senators ask President Bush to endorse a $7.7 billion increase in federal education funding. Murray said the Bush Administration has provided inadequate resources for critical education programs.

The Administration's education plan, if adopted, will result in the worst education budget in seven years. The Administration's budget falls $7 billion short of the resources promised in the Act, and it cuts funding for 'No Child Left Behind' initiatives by $90 million. In addition, the President's budget request will propose a $300 million cut to rural education initiatives.

"One of the great tests of 'No Child Left Behind' will be whether we can make the law work for children rather than punish them," said Murray at a Capitol Hill press conference today. "Without funding, 'No Child Left Behind' will fail and our children will pay the price. Schools will struggle to meet the new regulations.

"We came together in a bipartisan way to pass 'No Child Left Behind.' Now is the time to come together again to support full funding for our children's education," Murray continued.

A copy of the letter sent to the President is below:

January 8, 2003

The President The White House Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to ask for your help in keeping the bipartisan promise of the No Child Left Behind Act and making the dream of college education a reality for all American students.

A year ago today, when the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) was signed into law, Congress and the Administration pledged to support greater federal investment in education, higher academic standards for students, and accountability for school results. We did so knowing that America's public schools could not meet the Act's long-term challenges and its immediate demands without a substantial increase in resources.

At this moment, as schools grapple with the cost of implementing the NCLBA and local communities struggle with revenue shortfalls that have grown dramatically in the last six months, it has become all the more imperative for Congress and the Administration to provide schools with increased federal resources to carry out education reform. We simply cannot expect most school districts to take the necessary steps to give every child an equal chance to succeed - in particular, to fix high-poverty schools, improve teacher quality, expand after-school learning opportunities, and help students who speak limited English learn the language - if we do not move quickly to fill this widening funding gap.

The impact of states' budget crises, however, extends beyond elementary and secondary education to college as well. State aid to colleges is declining, leading colleges to raise tuition, and forcing students, who are unable to pay, out of school. The federal government must do more to help qualified low and middle-income college students. The purchasing power of the Pell Grant has been dropping for years. Today, it pays less than half the cost of attendance at a public four-year college, and less than a quarter of the cost of a private four-year college. Without a substantial increase in the maximum Pell Grant, federal grant aid will fall farther behind rising tuition costs, and as many as 110,000 students will be shut out of college next fall.

These risks are unacceptable. We cannot afford to lose another generation of students who are trapped in failing schools or who lack the means to attend college. We stand ready to work with you on a bipartisan basis, as we did on the No Child Left Behind Act, to stop these risks from turning into reality. But we must start by acknowledging that America's public schools cannot overcome the enormous obstacles they face on the cheap, and that if we fail to act on our responsibilities now, we will be setting up our children to fail in the future.

Therefore, in the coming days, as Congress completes action on Fiscal Year 2003 Appropriations, we urge you to agree to match our past rate of progress in increasing support for education at all levels. That would mean an increase of $4.5 billion in education funding over the $3.2 billion increase unanimously recommended by the Senate Appropriations Committee in its July 2002 reported bill.

We share a commitment to giving every American child the same opportunity to succeed in life. And we know the work our schools need to do to get there - such as filling acute shortages of qualified math and science teachers in our most disadvantaged districts, investing in innovative curricula and teaching methods, expanding after-school learning opportunities, and knocking down the barriers to higher education, the passport to economic progress. But that hard work will take real resources, and the states and local districts are counting on our support. Let's honor that commitment together, and prevent millions of children from being left behind.

Sincerely,

[Signed by Senator Murray and 41 other Senators]