The Election Wave Has Passed – What Can Delaware Look Forward to?

November 16th, 2010

Category: News

The 2010 election season brought forth enormous change at the federal level, which will no doubt have implications for federal education policy, including the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), otherwise known as No Child Left Behind. 

A quick history – ESEA was first authorized in 1965 and subsequently served as the engine behind the vast majority of federal K-12 education programs and accounts for almost $25 billion in funding today, with an additional $19 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  ESEA was last reauthorized in 2002 and expired in 2008.  However, one-year extensions have been automatically granted, and will continue to be, until Congress addresses the law.  ESEA initiatives include Title I-Part A, which provides financial assistance to districts with high percentages of low-income students or Title II-Part A, which is used to recruit and prepare highly-effective teachers and leaders.

Looking ahead, it’s hard to determine what steps will be taken with regards to ESEA.  On one hand, everyone currently involved in the education debate believes, in one way or another, that ESEA has some major problems that must be addressed, especially the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures.  With the 2014 deadline for having 100% of students achieve proficiency in both math and reading, almost every school throughout the country will be subject to sanctions under the current law, completely negating its original intent.  On the other hand, the politics of working together to craft legislation with the 2012 election season looming might prove difficult to overcome.  This could be exacerbated by the philosophical differences of newly elected members, with some going as far as declaring the United States Department of Education unconstitutional.

President Obama and Secretary Duncan released their blueprint for ESEA reform last March and received support from both sides of the aisle.  The blueprint aligns with Vision 2015 and Governor Markell’s “Delaware’s Plan to Strengthen Our Schools.”  The blueprint borrows from the principles of Race to the Top: teacher and leader effectiveness, college-and-career ready students, and turning around persistently low-performing schools. 

While federal legislators debate reauthorization, it is important to reflect on how the current law impacts education within the First State.  For the 2007-2008 fiscal year (the last year data is available) Delaware received $45,592,042 from the federal government to implement these programs (total federal revenue for Delaware was $142,756,553, which amounts to 8.3% of entire state education budget).  Of the federal ESEA funds:

  • $32,858,113 (1.9%) goes towards Title I – Part A;
  • $12,094,726 (0.7%) goes towards Title II – Part A; and
  • The remaining goes towards Title I – Part C and Title VI.

Therefore, if reauthorization does not move forward, we can expect somewhat similar levels and distribution of funding.  However, one aspect that will dramatically alter the education landscape within Delaware involves the measurement of AYP within our schools.  For the 2009-2010 school year, 103 schools (57%) did not make AYP.  This number will only continue rising as we raise our standards and provide a clearer picture on our student’s achievement levels compared to other states and high-performing nations. 

We hope that the legislators can come together behind President Obama’s blueprint and work together to craft a vision for education moving forward – one that demands excellence from all students and stakeholders while providing them the necessary tools to achieve those results.

This blog is the first in a three part series on the effects of the 2010 elections on federal education policy and implications in the First State.

Brett Turner



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