Ten States Lose Federal Education Money for Poor Children

 

Federal money to educate poor children is increasing, but 10 states and more than half of the nation's school districts will receive less money in the next school year, according to a report released June 15.

Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania will get up to 10 percent less in federal funds, according to an analysis by the Center on Education Policy, an independent education advocacy organization in Washington, D.C.

While 40 states will get a share of next year's $647 million increase in so-called Title I funds for low-income students, many school districts even in those states will see cuts.

Overall, nearly 56 percent of school districts will get fewer federal funds next year as funds get shifted around because of declining numbers of low-income students in some areas and a new federal formula that awards more money to districts with higher concentrations of poverty.

The change penalizes many states and school districts that still serve significant numbers of low-income students, said Jack Jennings, the center's director.

"While it is admirable and appropriate that the federal government is providing much-needed additional resources for districts with large concentrations of low-income students, it should not come at the expense of other districts working hard to lift the achievement of similar student populations," Jennings said.

Jennings claims the cuts shortchange efforts to meet the mandates of President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. "The No Child Left Behind Act is demanding more of all school districts, not just the poorest," Jennings said. "By asking for more from all while giving less to most, the federal government is undermining support for the law and challenging the ability of states and districts to comply with the law's demand for improved performance."

To pay for every child that qualified under Title I, the federal government would have to double the program's current $12.3 billion budget, the report states.

The Bush administration has increased money for low-income students by 41 percent, or $3.58 billion, in the past three years.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act, a centerpiece of the president's tenure, requires states to give reading and mathematics tests to all students in third through eighth grade, plus 10th grade. The law, meant to raise the achievement of disadvantaged children, also mandates penalties for schools that do not meet testing benchmarks for two or more years. 

 
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