Alliance for Excellent Education Releases New Report Calling For an Investment in Excellent Education Through Title I
The Alliance for Excellent Education, a new non-profit education organization, is releasing its first report, entitled “Investing in Education: Making Title I Work for All Children.” The report highlights the fact that middle schools and high schools are not receiving the support they need to raise achievement levels given the limited amount of Title I funds available.
“Even in this time of national crisis, we have a responsibility to go forward and give all of our children the best education possible,” said Susan Frost, Executive Director of the Alliance, “The President has been passionate about improving education and we hope that he will keep education at the top of his domestic agenda.”
“This report tells us that we are still coming up short when it comes to helping our poorest students,” said Frost. “School districts should be receiving about $2995 per poor student through the Title I program. Unfortunately, school districts now receive, according to our calculations, an average of only $889 per poor student, a difference of $2106.” Under existing law, school districts are eligible to receive 40 percent of their state’s average per-pupil expenditure for each poor student.
Special attention is paid to the difficult choices that local officials must make given the limited amount of federal dollars. “Local educators want to help all children succeed, but we force them to perform to a form of educational triage,” said Frost. “The lack of funding requires them to make a ‘Sophie’s choice’ between their elementary age children and their adolescents.”
Only 15 percent of all Title I funds now go to secondary schools even though they educate 33 percent of all low-income children. The report notes that while there is increasing evidence that the standards movement is starting to achieve success in the early grades, this success does not carry forward in middle schools and high schools because of the limited funding available.
The report also points out the fact that there are many students in our nation’s high schools who have difficulty reading. Approximately 714,000 high school students cannot read as well as they should on the eve of their high school graduation. The Alliance urges the nation to broaden the reach of new efforts to improve literacy to middle schools and high schools.
The report notes that many high school students are unprepared to pass high-stakes exit exams in 24 states. “There are many high school students who received a watered-down curriculum in their early years of schooling,” said Frost. “Now, without giving them the support they need, we are demanding that they pass high stakes exit exams in order to graduate from high school.”
“I strongly support this call for new investments in education,” said former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley. “We need to extend the reach of Title I to middle schools and high schools and build on the success that we are starting to achieve in the early grades.”
The release of this report comes at a time when the Congress continues to work on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The House proposes to spend $24 billion, while the Senate has approved $33 billion. Currently the federal government is spending $18.4 billion this year on elementary and secondary education.
The report notes that the Title I program has changed substantially in the last seven years and that over half of all high-poverty school districts report that Title I is driving reform. Title I is the largest federal initiative aimed at closing the achievement gap between rich and poor children.
Title I provides approximately one-third of all federal funds to support elementary and secondary education. These funds are largely used to pay for instruction and instructional support, professional development, technology, expanding preschool, summer school and after school opportunities and increasing parental involvement. In its 36 years of existence, Title I has yet to receive the funding commitment originally intended in its authorizing statute. To fully fund Title I and serve all eligible students at all grade levels, the federal government would have to increase its investment from the current $8.76 billion to $27.4 billion.
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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life. It is funded by the Leeds Family, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Daniels Fund, and the New York Community Trust, as well as by concerned individuals.
For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit: www.all4ed.com.