07.10.15

Burr and Bennet to Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Fund All Low-Income Children Equally, Increasing Funding to Poor Children in 75% of the United States

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) announced they plan to introduce their amendment, Full Educational Opportunity Act, to the Every Child Achieves Act (ESEA). The Full Educational Opportunity Act makes more federal educations dollars available to low income children across the United States by treating poor children the same. The legislation clarifies the Title 1-A section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to end a discriminatory policy that unfairly favors a few states at the expense of poor kids who reside in the rest of America. The amendment would more properly allocate education money to states by multiplying their number of poor children by national costs to educate them instead of relying on the current, byzantine formula used by the federal government.

“36 states, plus the District of Columbia, are struggling to educate kids who are living in poverty because they are punished by a federal aid formula rigged to help just a handful of states,” said Burr. “It’s unfair for federal education spending intended for low-income children to favor children who live in certain parts of the country.  When our government aims to assist children who need help, I expect that our laws will do just that. This amendment will rebalance the Title I-A formula once and for all. It’s time to end this discrimination and to do right by these kids.”

“Title I funding is intended to help kids in low-income communities, particular those living in concentrations of poverty,” Bennet said. “The current funding formula shortchanges kids in Colorado.  We’re proposing a formula that continues to fulfill the purpose to Title I and provide additional funding to low-income students, consider concentrations of poverty while treating kids across the country more equitably.”

ESEAMapTitleIFormula

Background: 

In 1965, President Johnson and Congress pledged to provide “financial assistance to school districts serving areas with concentrations of children from low-income families”. Over successive revisions of the law over the decades, however, it has become clear the tool for achieving this goal –Title I-A’s allocation formula – was constructed in a flawed manner, limiting its ability to target funding to those students most in need.

Rather than fix these flaws, Congress continued to compound the problem by creating more complicated formulas and promises of new funding that never materialize.  The end result has been a formula rigged to benefit a handful of states at the expense of the rest of the country.

The Problem: Title I-A, and the low-income children it is intended to serve, suffers from the following flaws:

1. Title I-A is comprised of four complicated formulas, each of which contains flaws in how well low-income students are targeted;

2. Current law focuses on education expenditures and effort, as measured by tax base, as a proxy for cost, but really reflects the wealth of states and districts and their ability to spend on their students;

3. The formulas tend to favor very large districts in absolute numbers, but have no concentrated poverty test to ensure they are not benefiting at the expense of smaller districts that have equally high pockets of poverty;

Summary: The Full Educational Opportunity Act does the following:

1. Streamlines all Title I-A funding into one formula, a reformed Educational Finance Incentive Grant (EFIG) formula, entitled “Equity Grants”;

2. Removes current law’s distortionary policies that benefit higher wealth and capacity states and districts while limiting Title I-A’s reach to concentrated areas of poverty throughout the country; and

3. Provides poor children in smaller districts with the same opportunity as those in larger districts.

Additional details on the plan are available here.

Is This Fair?

North Carolina

•      391K Low-Income Students

•      $417m Title I-A Allocation 

34,000 more low-income children, but $125 million less in Title I-A Allocation.

Pennsylvania

•      357K Low-Income Students

•      $542m Title I-A Allocation

 

Colorado

•      143K Low-Income Students

•      $150m Title I-A Allocation

19,000 More Low-Income Students, but $46 million less in Title I-A Allocation.

Maryland

•      124K Low-Income Students

•      $196m Title I-A Allocation

 

Indiana

•      235K Low-Income Students

•      $256m Title I-A Allocation  

7,000 more Low-Income Students, but $75 million less in Title I-A Allocation.

New Jersey

•      228K Low-Income Students

•      $331m Title I-A Allocation

 

Nevada

•      102K Low-Income Students

•      $116m Title I-A Allocation 

Nevada has 20,000 more low-income students but gets same Title I-A Allocation.

Connecticut

•      80K Low-Income Students

•      $116m Title I-A Allocation

 

Washington

•      204K Low-Income Students

•      $230m Title I-A Allocation 

45,000 more Low-Income Kids, but $1 million lower Title I-A Allocation.

Massachusetts

•      159K Low-Income Students

•      $231m Title I-A Allocation

 

New Mexico

•      107K Low-Income Students

•      $116m Title I-A Allocation 

27,000 more Low-Income Kids, same Title I-A Allocations.

Connecticut

•      80K Low-Income Students

•      $116m Title I-A Allocation

 

Florida

•      690K Low-Income Students

•      $774m Title I-A Allocation 

Similar number of Low-Income Kids, but Florida receives $400 million less than New York.

New York

•      686K Low-Income Students

•      $1.1billion Title I-A Allocation