Sen. Burr Presses Education Secretary on Funding for Low-Income Children, King Has No Answers

WASHINGTON – Today, during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) questioned Secretary of Education John King about federal funding designed to help low-income children. King repeatedly dodged Sen. Burr’s questions about Title I education funding, which is supposed to support the educational needs of children living in poverty. The formula governing Title I funding has not been updated since 2001 and does not reflect current population levels. As a result, children in states like North Carolina are missing out on promised funds that should be used at a state level to bolster education funding.

“We layer and layer and layer programs on,” said Senator Burr. “But we’ve got one right here where the money doesn’t follow the intended pupil and we are not fixing it.”

Burr questions king

WATCH: Sec. King repeatedly refuses to answer questions about the outdated funding formula that prevents federal education dollars from following low-income children.

Senator Burr has been an aggressive advocate for updating federal education funding formulas to match changes in student population. Children living in poverty in states with a growing population have been consistently short changed by this policy which directs funding to where students lived in 2001, not where they live today.

Last year, Sen. Burr authored a provision that was included in the Every Student Succeeds Act, updating the Title II funding formula. This provision will bring $24 million for North Carolina schools.  Senator Burr also pushed for a modification to Title 1 funding, the Full Educational Opportunity Act, which would properly redirect federal funds to the states where the funding was intended to go. The Full Educational Opportunity Act passed the Senate by a vote of 59-39 last year as an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA).

A video of Sen. Burr’s exchange with Education Secretary John King is available here.

A transcript of the conversation is included below:

Burr: “Isn’t the role of federal government, with taxpayer designated money for poor kids, isn’t our role to make sure that the money follows where those poor kids live?”

King: “The focus of the federal dollars is on addressing the needs of the students who are most at risk.”

Burr: “Wasn’t Title I designed to supplement the needs of those kids? And today, it doesn’t follow the kids, it stays in districts whether the population grows or decreases. And why wouldn’t the federal government set the example of changing it?”

King: “Again, I think the key is to get the dollars to the students who are most at risk, and we have to acknowledge that students who are in schools of concentrated poverty, students in poverty who are in schools of concentrated poverty, are more at risk as a result. One of the things that the President has done is propose an initiative called Stronger Together that would have the goal of…..”

Burr: “We layer and layer and layer programs on, but we’ve got one right here where the money doesn’t follow the intended pupil and we are not fixing it.”