Petition to Eliminate Unfair Treatment of Small and Rural Districts in Title I Funding


Last Updated: March 26, 2010
 

This article appeared in the March 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

The following petition is available on the Formula Fairness Campaign website, where you can learn much more about Title I funding and the Fairness Campaign…

To Eliminate the Unfair Treatment of Small and Rural School Districts Caused by Certain Provisions in the Formula for Distributing Funds Under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Hon. Tom Harkin, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Hon. Mike Enzi, Ranking Member, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Hon. George Miller, Chairman, U.S. House of Representative Committee on Education and Labor

Hon. John Kline, Ranking Member, U.S. House of Representative Committee on Education and Labor

Hon. Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

Gentlemen:

The formula used to distribute federal funds to local school districts to help them meet the educational needs of disadvantaged students contains several provisions that systematically favor very large districts and wealthy states at the expense of all smaller districts and poorer states.

One provision at issue is a number weighting system that inflates the actual count of eligible students in large districts. As a result of this provision, large, low-poverty districts get more funding while smaller high-poverty districts get less.

For example, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service for the school year 2008–09, Fairfax County, Virginia, in suburban Washington D.C., gained almost $2.8 million due to number weighting, despite a very low poverty rate of 5.5 percent. Meantime, Robeson County School District in rural North Carolina lost nearly $2.0 million due to number weighting, despite having a poverty rate of 40 percent. High-poverty Robeson County was allocated a total of $1,352 for each Title I student. Low-poverty Fairfax County was allocated $1,935 per Title I student.

Another provision sends more money per Title I student in states that spend the most per pupil in their public schools, and less to states that spend the least. The education of disadvantaged child in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is worth 45% more to the federal government than that of a disadvantaged student in Philadelphia, Mississippi, simply because Pennsylvania spends more in its public schools than does Mississippi.

This is wrong. This is unfair. This is not in the spirit of equal educational opportunity that is the Hallmark of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

We therefore, ask you as education leaders in the Congress and in the Obama Administration to end the unfair treatment of small and rural school districts caused by these provisions in the Title I formula.

Click here to sign the petition.

Read more from the March 2010 Rural Policy Matters.