From Jan. 23-26 an estimated 2,500 education leaders from around the country met to learn about new challenges brought about by HR 1, the No Child Left Behind Act. Organized by the National Association of State Title I Directors, the conference marked the coming together of local Title I administrators, principals, superintendents, teachers, parents, and many others.
Title I continues to be the most effective funding mechanism for serving the educational needs of disadvantaged children. This success was seen firsthand during the recognition ceremony to honor Title I Distinguished Graduates. This year, the program recognized 48 graduates from 30 states.
|Broderick Stargell, 1989, LaGrange High School, LaGrange, Georgia:
“My Title I class had four students and one outstanding teacher. Mrs. Nelson’s love for teaching and her patience allowed me to excel in reading and writing. I am convinced that the one-on-one attention I received in Title I was the foundation for my reading and writing success . . . Title I gave Mrs. Nelson the resources and she in turn gave us the educational tools for excellence.”
Mr. Stargell graduated from Tuskegee University with a bachelor of science degree and now works as a family support specialist with a local school district. More information on Mr. Stargell and the other 47 distinguished graduates is available from the National Association of State Title I Directors at or by calling (202) 624-8911.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the Title I conference was its focus on key challenges that school districts faced in implementing the new No Child Left Behind Act. It featured special sessions with experts who provided updates on changes to the Title I law and a preview of the regulatory process. Several representatives from the Department of Education led the sessions and offered guidance on the legislative intent of the new accountability provisions.
State and local Title I directors together with their local school boards and superintendents will now have to decide how to best spend the additional $1.5 billion that Congress appropriated for Title I for the school year starting in September. For instance, California will see a $268 million increase over its fiscal 2001 allocations. New York will receive a $187 million increase, and Florida is set to receive over $96 million more. Even smaller states are receiving big increases; Vermont is slated for $4 million more, a 22 percent increase.
Although this increase will be important to intensify services to at-risk students, it will not be enough for school districts to cover all grade levels. Without full funding for Title I, school districts will again be forced to make a Sophie’s choice between their elementary-age children and their adolescents–and repeatedly, they’ve shown that they prefer to put their limited funds toward early education. This forced choice means that very few middle and high school students will benefit from these increases and will ultimately be left behind.