As federal lawmakers get ready to reauthorize the nation’s centerpiece education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, they should rewrite provisions in the law’s Title I program that currently shortchange low-income students, a report says.
According to the report, which was published last week, Title I is intended to provide extra support for educating low-income children on top of a state and local funding base that is presumed to be roughly equal from school to school. What happens in practice, though, the report says, is that schools use the additional federal aid to plug gaps between their schools and those in wealthier communities, and not to buy the extras that educators need to better serve more-challenging student populations.
To illustrate its point, the report notes that in New York City, half the district’s 500 Title I schools received less state and local funding in 2007-08 than non-Title I schools.
“New York City is just one example,” said Natasha Ushomirsky, a K-12 policy analyst at the Education Trust, the Washington-based research and advocacy group that published the report. “High-poverty schools across the country are often shortchanged when it comes to funding.”
The inequities happen in part because districts allocate teaching positions to schools rather than provide equal amounts of dollars for schools to hire their teaching staffs. The problem is that schools in low-income communities pay teachers less—an average of more than $3,000 less, for instance, in Fresno, Calif., and $2,600 in Austin, Texas—than do better-off schools.
To close such loopholes in the Title I program, the report recommends revamping the law to require districts to spend the same amount per student in Title I schools as they do in non-Title I schools; count all school-level expenditures, including teachers salaries, in dollars; and publicly report per-student expenditures by funding source.
A version of this article appeared in the April 07, 2010 edition of Education Week as Loopholes in Title I Rules Shortchange Poor Students, Report Says