Federal

Civil Rights Group Decries Implementation of Title I

By Erik W. Robelen — September 22, 1999 3 min read

Civil rights advocates charged in a strongly worded report last week that the Clinton administration has failed to enforce key provisions of the largest federal K-12 program by allowing states and districts to set lower expectations for their disadvantaged students.

"[T]he Clinton administration, once a prime advocate of standards-based reform, has since had a massive failure of will and nerve,” the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights contends in “Title I in Midstream: The Fight To Improve Schools for Poor Kids.”

For More Information

For a single free copy of either report by the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights, call Khara Minter at (202) 659-5565. The National Research Council’s report is available for $29.95 by calling the National Academy Press at (800) 624-6242. It will also be made available electronically at www.nap.edu.

The report examines the implementation of changes ordered by Congress in 1994 to the $8 billion Title I program, which provides federal aid to schools with large numbers of disadvantaged students. The changes--part of the congressional reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that year--required states and districts to set up systems of standards, aligned assessments, and accountability for all schools and students.

With another ESEA reauthorization now under way, the report has a timely theme. And William L. Taylor, the vice chairman of the privately organized group, emphasized at a Sept. 13 press briefing here that the 1994 reforms should not be undermined as Congress begins its reauthorization work this year.

“The standards-based reforms that were adopted by Congress in 1994 can be made to work,” said Mr. Taylor, a prominent school desegregation lawyer based in Washington.

Implementation Focus

The report, the first in a series the advocacy group is preparing on Title I implementation, focuses on what the commission describes as the “extent to which policies and enforcement practices of the Department of Education have fulfilled--or, in some cases, thwarted--the promise of the new law with respect to our poorest children.”

The group outlines examples of where it believes the Education Department has strayed from the ESEA’s intent, such as not requiring each state to establish a single set of high standards for all of its students and failing to insist that states set high standards in subjects beyond reading and mathematics.

But Judith Johnson, the acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education at the Department of Education, said the administration has demonstrated a commitment to standards-based reform and high expectations for all students. She noted that 48 states have developed content standards in subjects beyond reading and math.

In an interview, she said the report underestimates the challenge of making standards-based reform a reality. “We have worked deliberately in the last five years to translate that policy into practice,” she said. “People need to understand that doesn’t happen overnight.”

John F. Jennings, the director of the Center on Education Policy and a former education aide to House Democrats, said that the political makeover after the 1994 elections--when Republicans took control of Congress--made it hard for the Education Department to enforce the law stringently because of the Republicans’ attacks on the department and its programs. But he cautioned that some of the commission’s charges were open to debate.

The report does offer some praise for the Clinton administration--particularly its commitment to targeting Title I resources to schools with the greatest needs. And it highlights efforts by certain states, such as Texas, and school districts, including Memphis and Philadelphia, in implementing standards-based reforms.

The commission also released a report specifically on one state. “Title I in Alabama: The Struggle To Meet Basic Needs” has accolades for a few high-poverty schools there, but also criticizes Alabama for failing to adequately finance its public schools and include all children in the accountability system it adopted in 1995.

Separately last week, the nonprofit National Research Council, with funding from foundations and the Education Department, unveiled a report of its own on Title I, “Testing, Teaching, and Learning: A Guide for States and School Districts.” The NRC report is designed to serve as a practical guide for states and districts to use in setting up the systems of standards, assessment, and accountability required under the Title I law.

Related Tags:

Events

School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Biden Pitches Plan to Expand Universal Pre-K, Free School Meal Programs, Teacher Training
The president's $1.8 trillion American Families Plan faces strong headwinds as Congress considers other costly administration proposals.
8 min read
President Joe Biden addresses Congress from the House chamber. Behind him are Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, as Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., applaud.<br/>
Chip Somodevilla/AP
Federal Education Department Kicks Off Summer Learning Collaborative
The Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative will boost programs for students acutely affected by COVID-19 in 46 states.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, left, talks with Fort LeBoeuf Middle School teacher Laura Friedman during a discussion on safely returning to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic on March 3, 2021.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, left, talks with Fort LeBoeuf Middle School teacher Laura Friedman during a discussion on safely returning to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via TNS
Federal As 100-Day Mark Approaches, Has Biden Met His School Reopening Goal? And What Comes Next?
President Joe Biden faces a self-imposed deadline of having most K-8 schools open for in-person learning by his hundredth day in office.
6 min read
First Lady Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tour Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, in Meriden, Ct., on March 3, 2021.
First lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tour Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, in Meriden, Ct., in March.
Mandel Ngan/AP
Federal How the Pandemic Is Affecting Schools' Mandated Collection of Key Civil Rights Data
COVID-19 has complicated the work of gathering a vast store of civil rights data about schools that is required by the Education Department.
7 min read
Image of data.
monsitj/iStock/Getty