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Softening the Blow

Softening the Blow

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Raegen Miller praises a new bill that would help to fix flaws in the way Title I doles out funding to school districts.
Raegen Miller praises a new bill that would help to fix flaws in the way Title I doles out funding to school districts.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Jul 26, 2011
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1Center for American Progress | Softening the Blow
Softening the Blow
 Toward a Fairer Allocation of Title I Funds
Raegen Miller August 2011
TeAll Children Are Equal Acinroduced by Rep. Glenn Tomson (R-PA) in heHouse o Represenaives las week ackles a aw in he way ile I, he larges programauhorized by he Elemenary and Secondary Educaion Ac, or ESEA, allocaes undso school disrics.Te bill, which enjoys biparisan sponsorshipo Rep. G.K. Butereld (D-NC), amongohers, would gradually squelch an aspec o wo o he programs our unding ormulasha is ou o sync wih he purpose o ile I unds—o enhance he educaional experi-ence o children living in concenraed povery. Congress rs olded heargeed Granand he Educaion Finance Incenive Gran , or EFIG, ormulas ino ESEA during is1994 reauhorizaion. Te mos recen reauhorizaion, he No Child Le Behind Ac o 2001, required ha appropriaions over and above he level o scal year 2001—roughly hal o he scal year2011 appropriaiono $14.463 billion—be allocaed o schooldisrics by means o hese awed ormulas.So wha’s he problem? Te argeed Gran and EFIG ormulas avor he counry’s larg-es school disrics, irrespecive o he concenraions o children in povery he disricsserve. Te ormulas are based on he U.S. Census Bureau’s childhoodpovery esimaes as opposed o a disric’s ally o sudens eligible or ree or reduced-price meals. Teresul is ha small disrics and hose serving medium-sized ciies, including many serv-ing high concenraions o povery, ake a beaing, as hese examples drawn rom heCener or American Progress’s ownile I ormula proposalshow.In scal year 2009 Michigan’s Flin Ciy School Disric drew $1,984 in ile I unds perlow-income child while Deroi Ciy School Disric drew $2,266. Deroi’s 19 percenadvanage derives purely rom size. Flin and Deroi serve roughly he same high con-cenraion o children in povery—38 percen and 39 percen, respecively—bu Flinserves 9,577 children while Deroi serves 80,289 children. Souh Carolina’s 69,000-su-den Greenville Couny School Disric serves a subsanially lower concenraion o children in povery, 14 percen, han oher disrics in he sae, paricularly hose in hecorridor o shame” along Inersae 95. Nearly 22 percen o he children served by he
2Center for American Progress | Softening the Blow
1,700-suden Calhoun Couny School Disric, he easern porion o which is deni-ively in he “corridor o shame,” come rom low-income amilies, bu he disric receives$1,266 per low-income child, subsanially less han he $1,700 seen in Greenville.I’s hard o square hese examples wih he purpose o ile I unds bu he source o heproblem is uterly clear. Te argeed Grans and EFIG ormulas deermine allocaionsusing, among oher hings, he larger o wo weighed numbers o so-called ormula chil-dren, he number o children ages 5 o 17 living rom low-income amilies living wihina disric. One weighing scheme inaes he number o ormula children based on hepercenage i represens o all children a disric serves. Tis manner o weighing efec-ively arges concenraed povery. Bu he oher weighing scheme inaes he numbero ormula children based on raw numbers o children. Te number-based weighingscheme coners a unding advanage on large disrics.Tis unding advanage creaes a “sucking sound ,” using Ross Pero’s memorable phraserom he 1992 presidenial campaign, wih large disrics drawing ile I unds away rom small- and medium-sized disrics. Rendering his dynamic in nancial erms isexcessively complicaed because allocaions are driven by muliple acors, bu Figure 1illusraes he relaive magniude o unding advanage ha clusers o disrics servingpopulaions o children o similar size and povery rae enjoy. Te heigh o a bar is heaverage aken over a cluser o disrics o individual advanage acors, 1 in he case haa disric derives no bene rom number weigh-ing, he raio o number-weighed o concenraion- weighed numbers o ormula children oherwise.Disrics serving large numbers o children, aparrom disrics wih he highes concenraions o povery, enjoy a unding advanage o varying size.Te All Children are Equal Acwould weakenhe size advanage buil ino he argeed Granand EFIG ormulas, hus soening he blow olow-income children in small- and medium-sizeddisrics. Said anoher way, he bill would urndown he volume on he sucking sound, reducingallocaions or he larges disrics and increasingallocaions or oher disrics. Te bill’s approachis sraighorward. I would simply lower each o he weighs associaed wih he number-weighingscheme by an amoun equal o 10 percen o is cur-ren value or our consecuive years. A weigh o 3.0 would be hus reduced o 2.7, 2.4, 2.1, and nally 1.8. In he end his would subsanially dampen heinequiy creaed by number-weighing, no elimi-nae i as CAP’s proposal would.
Figure 1
Size matters
Relative magnitude of funding advantages for school districts groupedby number of children served and poverty concentration among them
Source: Author’s calculations or 12,235 districts technically eligible or Targeted Grants and EFIG Grants based on 2009 datarom: “Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates,” available athttp://www.census.gov/did/www/saipe/data/schools/index.html. Also based on ormula specifcations ound in Section 1125 o:
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,
Public Law 107-110,107th Cong. (January 8, 2002).

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