AFT Proposes Additional Title I/NCLB Funds for Schools With Students Displaced by Katrina
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 -- Public school districts and nonpublic schools that have students displaced from the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast would receive additional funding using a model established 40 years ago and still in place today in the No Child Left Behind Act, under a solution proposed today by the American Federation of Teachers. The proposal would allow legislators to avoid an ideological battle that the administration’s private school voucher plan would provoke and allow funds to go immediately to the children and schools that need them.
The AFT outlined its plan in a letter to Congress that urged legislators to develop a bipartisan response to the national tragedy. The letter suggested that the one-time emergency allocation for disaster relief should flow through the current NCLB program composition because it is “an existing, proven and accountable administrative structure” at the federal, state and local levels. “This would provide needed accountability for public funds while also providing assistance, something a private school voucher plan would not do,” AFT President Edward J. McElroy said.
All displaced students from the affected Gulf areas would benefit and be considered eligible under the AFT proposal because they would be placed in a “high need” status. The local education agencies would provide a certified count of the displaced students enrolled in area public and nonpublic schools. States would be responsible for overseeing the process of counting and certifying local efforts.
The emergency assistance would be used for instructional and administrative supports and family assistance. Allowable costs would be for such purposes as salaries of additional district teachers and paraprofessionals, social work and medical services, minor remodeling, local transportation, additional classroom furniture, books and supplies. Also, after-school and/or weekend programs for students and parents and related social services should be provided, the AFT proposed, for public and nonpublic schools at a rate of $1,500 per student.
The AFT also proposed that immediate funds be made available for severely affected districts such as New Orleans and Biloxi, so they can begin to restore operations and reopen their schools. These funds should be used for activities including: recovering data; replacing books, classroom supplies, instructional materials and equipment; providing temporary facilities; hiring additional district teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals and support staff; maintaining payroll and other financial obligations; replacing lost and damaged student supplies; and other necessary support.
The AFT represents 1.3 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; nurses and healthcare workers; and federal, state and local government employees.
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