As we witnessed the full committee markup of the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act (H.R. 2445) yesterday, we saw debate between members of the Education and Workforce Committee as to whether federal dollars truly make a difference in boosting academic achievement. It’s interesting how the majority argues that funding has not had an impact on academic outcomes for our schools while pushing a bill that highlights the importance of funding and the authority for states and school districts to move that money between all titles of ESEA as they deem necessary. This only speaks to the notion that funding truly does matter when it comes to helping boost academic performance. In a recent blog post by Lindsey Burke and the Heritage Foundation, she referenced H.R. 2445 as meaningful reform in the following ways:

It will save tax payer dollars – Are we talking about return on investment? I imagine so because Congress sure isn’t in much of a mood to pony up additional federal dollars these days. But return on investment could be jeopardized under the bill if it potentially leads to neglecting the needs of disadvantaged children and youth.

It will empower parents with decision-making authority – Interesting, given that the bill does not mention parents at all. But if the Heritage Foundation truly cares about parent empowerment, then where were they during the elimination of Parent Information Resource Centers (PIRCs) under H.R. 1891? However, the First Focus Campaign for Children did appreciate the efforts of Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) and his amendment to restore the PIRCS. Thank you Congressman Platts!

It will drastically reduce the federal role in education – Depending on the State we’re referring to, federal dollars compose between 10-15% of a State’s budget for public education. How much more can we really reduce in order for it to have an impact? And wouldn’t it make a greater difference if we went the other direction and increased funding? Although it matters a lot, we also recognize that funding isn’t the only that plays a role improving in educational outcomes… but it definitely starts there.

If the President’s proposed FY2012 education budget is enacted, spending at the agency will have increased 20 percent since 2010 alone, (By contrast, the defense budget has increased only 4.7 percent since 2010.) – Really? Shall we draw comparisons between defense and education for 2012? Under the President’s budget proposal for FY 2012, Defense makes up 19.27% of the Federal budget while Education and Job Training only comprises 2.77% of the 2012 budget proposal. Unfortunately, no contest.

And they find it reasonable to criticize increases in funding trends for K-12 programs? When did raising investments in children, youth and families become such a horrible thing to do? The whole “throwing more money is not the answer to improving education” argument is hard to buy when we invest as little as we do already. As for the perspective of eliminating the federal role in education, that’s also hard for so many folks to accept when different states and different schools districts do things differently…and they don’t always do right by our kids and families . This is why a federal role in education is needed.