Thursday, May 12, 2016

Education officials say they’re trying to protect poor children. A senator says they’re trying to break the law. - The Washington Post

Education officials say they’re trying to protect poor children. A senator says they’re trying to break the law. - The Washington Post:

Education officials say they’re trying to protect poor children. A senator says they’re trying to break the law.

An Obama administration proposal to ensure adequate resources for poor children in the nation’s schools has triggered a backlash on Capitol Hill and among the nation’s K-12 superintendents, who say that the U.S. Education Department is trying to unilaterally — and illegally — rewrite the nation’s main federal education law.
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service on Wednesday lent credence to that criticism, writing that the department’s proposal seems to conflict with language in the law and “appears to go beyond what would be required under a plain language reading of the statute.”
At issue is how thousands of school districts prove that they are using $15 billion in federal Title I dollars to provide extra help for poor children in tens of thousands of schools nationwide. Federal law says that school districts must spend the money in a way that provides extra help to poor children — that it not be used to provide basic educational services — and requires that Title I schools have comparable services to those in wealthier schools in the same district. School districts are not allowed to underfund schools in poor neighborhoods and then use the federal dollars to fill in the hole.
But because high-poverty schools often spend fewer dollars per student — sometimes thousands of dollars — the Education Department has proposed a new rule to force districts to close the gap first. School districts would have to show that they are spending enough on poorer schools before they receive the federal dollars.
Department officials believe they have not only the legal authority, but the legal obligation, to enforce that rule.
“The entire purpose of Title I funds is to truly provide the additional resources necessary to ensure that students in high poverty schools have access to equitable educational opportunity,” spokeswoman Raymonde Charles said in a statement. “If schools are being shortchanged before the federal dollars arrive, then those dollars are not supplemental.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), one of the chief architects of the new education law, is urging states to sue if the administration moves forward with the plan, arguing that it would interfere with the law’s specific intent of shifting power from Washington to state and local school officials.
“This is an intolerable situation,” Alexander said on the Senate floor. “As soon as the president Education officials say they’re trying to protect poor children. A senator says they’re trying to break the law. - The Washington Post:

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