Burr Offers Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Education Funding for North Carolina’s Poorest Children

WASHINGTON – Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced their amendment, Full Educational Opportunity Act,to the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) yesterday. 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 children who reside in the rest of America.  The amendment would more properly allocate education money to 36 states, plus the District of Columbia, 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.

North Carolina alone will benefit by $72 million representing an increase of 17.41% over current funding levels.

“The vast majority of impoverished children in the United States are shortchanged by a federal aid formula rigged to favor just of 25% of the country,” said Burr. “Rather than fix the lopsided funding problem that delivers uneven funding for children that need it the most in states like North Carolina, Congress compounded the problem by creating more complicated formulas and promises of new funding that never materialize.  This bill finally provides poor children in smaller districts with the same opportunity as those in larger districts and it’s overdue.”

“Title I funding is intended to help kids in low-income communities, particularly 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.” 

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.


•      357K Low-Income Students

•      $542m Title I-A Allocation


Under the current funding formula, North Carolina children see about $700 in federal funds less per child* than children in other states.


*Via U.S. Department of Education; Numbers are per-poor child.



Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools:  $1,161.00 per low-income child

Wake County Schools: $1,141.00 per low-income child

Guilford County Schools: $1,128.00 per low-income child

Forsyth County Schools: $1,124.00 per low-income child

Other States:

Boston, Mass: $1,847.00 per low-income child

Philadelphia, PA: $1,986.00 per low-income child

Cleveland, OH: $1,805.00 per low-income child

Richmond, VA: $1,734.00 per low-income child

New Haven, CT: $1,717.00 per low-income child

Newark, NJ: $1,838.00 per low-income child


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. Legislation is available here. Additional state breakdowns are available here.