I haven’t written much about the President’s FY09 (and thankfully last) budget request released Monday. It’s mostly disappointing. All there really is to say is that while the President keeps challenging Congress to pass a reauthorized No Child Left Behind bill he keeps doing things like this that are spectacularly unhelpful. It’s clear that while he’s cross-pressured on this issue, the President chooses base politics over getting anything done in terms of where he puts new money and emphasis.
But, one item a lot of people are upset about is the President’s proposal to basically shift the 21st Century Learning Centers (after-school) program into a more individualized program. The devil is in the details here but given (a) the lackluster results from after-school to date (b) the overall poor results from No Child Left Behind’s “supplemental services” (SES) tutoring initiative and (c) the dramatic need to do something to make kids in persistently low-performing schools “whole” rather than asking them or their families to wait years on unproven school turnaround strategies, I’m not convinced this is a bad idea. But, the budget request shouldn’t be cut from previous spending levels, rather augmented, school districts should be able to compete along with other organizations and faith-based groups should not be prioritized, and the quality component has to really increase. The quality control around the SES initiative is a joke.