Vouchers were introduced in Chile by free-market economists whose vision was similar to that of DeVos. When this vision held sway, from 1980-1990, public spending on education was cut essentially in half — from 5 percent to 2.5 percent of gross domestic product. The state did relatively little to regulate the private schools that took vouchers.
The hearing quickly became a heated and partisan debate about how best to spend public money in education. Republicans applauded Ms. DeVos’s work to expand charter schools and school vouchers, which give families public funds to help pay tuition at private schools. Democrats criticized her for wanting to “privatize” public education and pushed her, unsuccessfully, to support making public colleges and universities tuition free.
Changes to the way spending on schools must be reported under the Every Student Succeeds Act—along with a dramatic political fight in Washington about proper use of federal money in schools—are part of the picture as schools prepare for the new environment under ESSA come the 2017-18 school year.
By Marguerite Roza, Ph.D., Director of the Edunomics Lab and Research Professor at Georgetown University – For more than a decade, the federal government has required districts to report student outcomes by school. Spending was the missing piece. The new federal ESSA rights that wrong and will require districts to account for school-by-school spending and publicly report it. When the spending data are daylighted, the evidence will be clear that many districts have hardwired systematic spending inequities in their operations.
The report— “Expanding Equity: Leveraging the Every Student Succeeds Act to Provide Direct Student Services”—is a kind of how-to-guide for states and districts interested in taking advantage of the chance to set aside 3 percent of statewide Title I funds for “direct student services.”
During a presentation at the Council of Chief State School Officers’ legislative conference, Mississippi education department officials as well as two Title I policy experts encouraged state leaders to work with districts on more creative uses of Title I and other money to better support student learning, and to make sure broader groups of officials are thinking about and overseeing how schools use federal funds.
This policy proposal lays out a series of reforms to Title I. It proposes ways to promote local spending decisions that are both efficient and true to the original antipoverty intent of the program, and changes to the multiple complex and opaque funding formulas to improve transparency and progressivity, depoliticizing the distribution of funds.
The voucher-style ESA program is easily the most sweeping school choice program of its kind in the nation…In an effort to stop the program from being scrapped by the courts, which could doom similar programs in other states in the future, national school choice groups have set their sights on Nevada and thrown their weight behind defending the program. On the other side, the national Education Law Center has done the same.
The newly reauthorized version of the main federal K-12 law makes significant changes in how schools can use dollars set aside for economically disadvantaged students. Those and other changes give states and districts more flexibility in general—and particularly in how they use Title I aid. Around four dozen districts will also get the chance to create a new funding formula, using federal dollars, that’s intended to target more money directly to students from low-income backgrounds and other students, like English-language learners, who may have disadvantages.