Positive New Developments in the Formula Fairness Campaign

Last Updated: August 27, 2011

This article appeared in the August 2011 Rural Policy Matters.

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The campaign to fix the formulas that distribute Title I funding to school districts continues to gain momentum. This month, three new co-sponsors signed on to the All Children are Equal Act (ACE/HR2485), a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would phase out number weighting in the Title I formulas, and the Montana Rural Education Association (MREA) joined the Formula Fairness Campaign (www.formulafairness.com) as a co-sponsor. The Formula Fairness Campaign is a national campaign to end discrimination against smaller districts, both rural and urban, in the federal formula for distributing funds under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Read more about these exciting developments below.

New Co-Sponsors for All Children are Equal Act

The All Children are Equal Act (HR 2485), which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in July, gained three new co-sponsors this month. They are:

  • Rep. Martha Roby, Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, a Republican member of the Education and the Workforce Committee
  • Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from Missouri’s 4th Congressional district
  • Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republic from Arkansas' 1st Congressional District.

This brings the number of co-sponsors to 14, nine Republicans (7 of whom are on the Education and the Workforce Committee) and five Democrats (one on the committee).

The original group of co-sponsors, led by Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), includes Lou Barletta (R-PA), Dan Boren (D-OK), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Tom Petri (R-WI), Todd Platts (R-PA), Mike Ross (D-AR), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY).

HR 2485 addresses the inequities in the formula for distributing Title I funds by lowering the weights used in the number weighting brackets to inflate the student count in larger districts. Under current law, a district with at least 6,900 Title I students gains funding no matter how low the rate of student poverty.

Co-sponsors have emphasized that this bill is about making the Title I formula more equitable and fulfilling the intent of Congress when it established a weighting system that was supposed to send more money per Title I student to school districts with the highest concentrations of poverty.

Many constituents were active in recruiting these new co-sponsors. You can ask your member of Congress to co-sponsor HR 2485 by clicking here.

The Formula Fairness Campaign is also inviting organizations to send letters of endorsement of HR 2485 to Congressman Thompson. Please send your organization’s letter to Rep. Thompson’s Legislative Director at matthew.brennan@mail.house.gov and send a copy to marty.strange@comcast.net.

Montana Rural Education Association Joins Formula Fairness Campaign

The latest co-sponsor of the Formula Fairness Campaign is the Montana Rural Education Association (MREA).

MREA membership consists of rural and small school districts throughout Montana. MREA has an active policy advocacy program that emphasizes equal access to a quality education, equitable funding systems that recognize the higher costs of educating children in rural areas, and local control of schools. It opposes forced consolidation of school districts.

The addition of MREA brings the number of organizations co-sponsoring FFC to 27. You can see the entire list by clicking here.

Marty Strange’s Comments to Congressional Committees on Title I Inequities

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out Rural Trust Policy Director, Marty Strange’s Comments Regarding the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Strange presented the written comments to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and to the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee in March, 2010.

The Comments explain number weighting and provide all kinds of easy-to-understand data that demonstrate why the formulas need fixing. The Comments also include charts identifying the districts that are biggest “winners” of number weighting (large low-poverty districts) and districts that are the biggest “losers” (high poverty medium and small districts).

Read more from the August 2011 Rural Policy Matters.