New legislation would fix discriminatory flaw in education grants

Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) recently introduced a bill to correct an inequity in the way that formulas for education grants are calculated.

The All Children Are Equal Act would correct the grant formula flaw as it currently exists under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

“Title I was designed to help provide financial assistance to school districts with high percentages of children from low-income families,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately the current formula places lower populated school districts at a distinct disadvantage, regardless of how great their concentration of poverty. This bipartisan bill we have introduced is a level headed and equitable approach to curbing this discriminatory flaw.”

Title I of ESEA is the largest source for federal education assistance funding. It distributes funds to local education agencies and schools with high numbers of children from low-income families, in order to combat the effects of poverty upon student achievement.

The Targeted and Education Incentive Finance Grants, under Title I, Part A of the ESEA has a weighting system applied to the formula, which diverts funding from higher poverty school districts to more populous school districts, regardless of their overall percentage of poverty.

“Though written with the best intentions, the current federal school funding formula treats students in countless school districts across the country unequally and it needs to be fixed,” Slaughter said. “This formula shortchanges children in Rochester and other communities in upstate New York, and the result is fewer books, more crowded classes, and a diminished education for our children and our neighbors’ children.”

The bill has support from a wide-range of bipartisan advocacy groups, including the American Association of School Administrators, the American Farm Bureau, the National Association of Black School Educators, the Parent Teacher Association and Save the Children.