U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued final guidance Thursday on how districts can comply with a rule that federal funds are used to supplement and not replace state and local dollars for education. The guidance says districts must show the methods they use to allocate state and local funds are “Title I neutral.” In other words, schools should receive all of the state and local funds they would receive if they were not Title I schools — but districts are not required to spell out which costs or services paid for with Title I dollars are supplemental. The new rule is intended to “reduce administrative burden, simplify compliance and promote effective spending,” according to the Department of Education press release.
Despite years of states pumping more money into schools, at least 22 states plus Washington D.C., up through 2017, still had not reached pre-recession funding levels, according to the CBPP. In Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Florida, funding remains more than 10 percent below pre-recession levels, according to the study. The threat of another recession has school finance analysts warning districts to judiciously spend any extra money they get this year. Set aside money in an emergency fund, they advise, and think twice before giving teachers permanent raises that might be unsustainable.
Title I explained: 5 things educators need to understand about federal money for students in poverty
Nearly every district in the country receives at least some money through Title I, the $15.4 billion federal program to help educate low-income students. Yet few completely understand the formulas used to provide those funds from year to year. Policymakers have long debated ways to update Title I, which dates back to the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act. A National Center for Education Statistics’ report released this month details how big a challenge it will be for Congress to overhaul support for the country’s neediest students. The more than 250-page report is worth a read, but Education Week highlights five critical things to understand.
Overall, the report found that the federal government gave the most Title I dollars to the most densely and the least densely populated areas – namely, large cities and remote rural areas. While the poorest districts had the highest total Title I allocations per child at about $1,400, and the least-poor districts – those with the lowest poverty – had the lowest total Title I allocations per child, the latter still received more than $1,000 per child. Notably, 95 percent of children helped by Title I dollars are on the receiving end because of a rule that allows schools where more than 40% of enrolled students qualify for Title I to use the funding for all students, regardless of whether they are eligible. That means that even though there are only about 12 million students considered eligible, Title I money ends up flowing to about 25 million students – nearly half of all public K-12 students in the U.S.
New historical federal data shows school spending in recent years continued to climb as state and local sales, income and property tax revenue rebounded. The National Center for Education Statistics this week reported that K-12 revenue was up 3.2 percent between fiscal years 2015 and 2016 and spending in fiscal year 2016 climbed 2.4 percent to around $10,800 per student. The report provides an annual detailed look at the most recently available federal, state, and local spending on districts across the country. While lagging by three years, it shows that K-12 revenue and spending since the recession continued to tick upward for rural, suburban and urban districts across the country.
Roza: DeVos proposed $50 million for districts to decentralize federal money, to put schools in the driver’s seat. It’s a smart idea.
A provision that could bring more autonomy to schools in how they serve their most vulnerable students has been largely overlooked — $50 million in incentive grants for districts to decentralize their federal dollars to schools. At issue is whether school leaders and staff can have a say in how federal resources are used in their buildings for their students. Under the status quo, the heavy red tape attached to federal dollars presumes a top-down approach to spending decisions in which district leaders make all the programming and staffing decisions for schools. This process virtually erases school leaders from playing a role in decisions on how best to use the federal money in their buildings. The budget proposed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would reverse that through a pilot program for up to 10 decentralized districts that would send federal dollars directly to schools, putting principals and teachers in the driver’s seat on how to spend those dollars.
Research finds Pre-K enrollment, spending stagnant, as key federal early learning grants are about to dry up
Overall, about one-third of the country’s 4-year-olds and less than 6 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded programs in the 2017-18 school year, according to…an annual report by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. Those numbers represent small increases from the previous year, with “much of the increase” in enrollment of 4-year-olds coming from federal Preschool Development Grants, the report found. Those federal funds, which went to 18 states, are coming to an end this year; the grants were announced in December 2014 and paid out over four years. “Those grants go away this year … States are going to have to find a way to fill that budget hole,” Steven Barnett, co-director of the institute, said on a webinar with reporters Tuesday. About half of the 18 states that received the grants, which totaled $244 million last year, have plans to sustain the funding through other sources, he said.
Count educators as part of the population taking a keen interest in a major U.S. Supreme Court case about whether President Donald Trump’s administration properly added a question about U.S. citizenship to the 2020 census. The arithmetic behind the issue is this: The decennial census is the foundation for allocation of billions of dollars of federal aid to states and localities, based on formulas involving population and poverty. A federal district judge in January found that adding a citizenship question to the census would lead to a decline in the response rate of at least 5.8 percent of households with at least one noncitizen and would also likely result in an undercount of Hispanic households. The Great City Schools council says in its brief that a 5.8 percent undercount of households with one noncitizen would—by itself—result in a “misallocation” nationwide of $151.7 million in Title I funds alone. An accurate count “is especially important for public schools, who serve all students, regardless of immigration status,” said Francisco M. Negrón Jr., the general counsel of the National School Boards Association.
This paper explores how the Title I program fits into today’s educational landscape and how it can evolve to better meet the needs of the students the program was designed to serve…Our federal lawmakers must improve the Title I program, given the rise of parental choice in education, the limited transparency in current Title I funding formulas, and the lack of evidence of the effectiveness of the Title I program as currently designed. One innovative solution would be to make federal aid to low-income students portable to their school of choice – this paper explores the potential impact of this approach in a state-based case study.
The Trump administration is looking to decrease the Education Department’s funding by $7.1 billion compared to what it was given last year, as part of next year’s proposed budget. The budget proposal suggests eliminating 29 programs, including after-school and summer programs for students in high-poverty areas, among other things. The budget proposal is unlikely to pass through Congress – especially with Democrats in control of the House, however, it is a glimpse into the Trump administration’s priorities going into the next fiscal year. The proposed budget includes DeVos’ school choice platform by asking for an increase in $60 million for the Charters Schools Program. The budget also requests $700 million for school safety measures from multiple agencies, including the Education Department, the Justice Department and Health and Human Services.