Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Federal funding available for tutoring

Did you know there is tutoring funding available for low-income children in low-performing schools?

It's been available for a while. It's through the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)...but 90% of the funds go un-used each year!

In the last week, two different tutoring providers have approached our organization. I am always suspicious when someone approaches me so that they can make money. Both providers work through the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) to provide services for the kids who qualify.

Here are the facts they've given us about the NCLB funding:
  • program is open to middle and high school students
  • kids must be from a school on the "under-performing list"
  • federal funding provides up to $1575 funding per child per year
  • children must qualify for free or reduced lunch

I am a curious as to why it isn't open to elementary-aged kids as well. It seems that getting kids back on track while they are young would be the thing to do.

From what I can understand, parents were notified (though I'm not sure how) on August 25 and had an enrollment deadline of September 25. A few more schools will be put on the list by the beginning of October and those students will have a deadline of October 25 to enroll. When we asked the man why couldn't students enroll year-round, we were told that DISD doesn't have the personnel to handle all of the paperwork associated with the funding. (Fort Worth...or was it Houston??...*does* allow year-round enrollment)

After these two meetings, I talked to another lady who said that she knew a provider that was being paid $3000 per kid to implement their program.

I haven't quite figured it out. Are the two programs that approached us gimmicks...or do they really help kids? Though $1575 is a start, I wonder how many kids get started on their "road to recovery and success" only to be cut off because there is no more funding.

If it's true, I'mt also wondering why one program gets $3000 per kid. Is it a better program that produces better results? If so, why is DISD still contracting with the other ones?

I understand that the administration needed to do the paperwork and measurements may be overwhelming, especially considering DISD's lastest blunder with their $64 million shortfall. However, I would think that getting kids tutored and up to grade level (if the funding's available) would/should be their greatest priority.

Does anyone else know anything about this and could offer any insight??
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