Targeting Poor Kids

The Center for Education Policy reports that some school districts will get less Title I funding (the primary federal funds for poor students) even though overall funding has gone up. CEP reports that Title I funding has increased 41 percent overall since 2001. (That chortling sound you hear is the Bush – Cheney campaign, which has been trying to make that point for a while and must be thrilled to have some validation…) But because No Child Left Behind included provisions to better target federal funding to poor children, many school districts and some states stand to lose funding under updated data. CEP rightly notes that the best way to deal with this problem is to fully fund Title I, which still does not reach all eligible children or even all children in some high poverty communities.

Yet, in the meantime, it’s a good idea to target the money as much as possible and resist the obvious political temptation to spread it far and wide but thin. Remember, the poorest school districts are most likely to have trouble raising money on their own to fund schools, and state finance systems often shortchange these districts as well. While highlighting the overall Title I funding shortfall, the CEP report unfortunately gives cover to the far and wide camp and efforts to dilute targeting. (That’s the other chortling sound you may be hearing…)

Reality Check Afterthought: CEP notes that two states that stand to lose under the new formulas are Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Hmmm…MA Senator Ted Kennedy and PA Senator Arlen Specter, who chairs the Senate subcommittee in charge of education spending…unlikely they’ll end up feeling much pain in the end…

Flashback Afterthought: Yes, this is basically the same data the Center for American Progress released a few months ago to make the same point.

Flashback Afterthought II: By the way, this isn’t some right wing plot. During NCLB debate Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) was a key champion of better targeting federal education dollars…

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