Is There a Better Way to Allocate Federal Funding for Poor Children?
The Title I formula has proven near impossible to change.
After a monthslong investigation into federal education funding, U.S. News concluded that much of the $14.5 billion meant to provide poor children with an education comparable to rich children's is in fact flowing to school districts with lower-than-average poverty rates.
The why has to do with a complicated formula based on sometimes outdated data that inflates money going to school districts in small states, large school districts and localities that can devote more money to K-12 education. Read more in our investigation: Rich School Districts Get Millions in Federal Money Meant for Poor Kids.
In education policy circles, the formula's shortcomings are common knowledge, and have been the subject of much discussion.
Some have also proposed new formulas. The Center of American Progress has run analyses of a formula it says "is much better than the current formulas at targeting Title I dollars to settings of concentrations of poverty." An analysis from Nora Gordon published by The Hamilton Project called for Congress to remove state-level spending per pupil from the formula, to eliminate two of the four sub-formulas used to calculate a school's funding, and to raise the minimum requirement to receive funds from a 2 percent poverty rate (or 10 poor children) to a 5 percent poverty rate. Gordon, an associate professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, has provided her data to U.S. News.
Despite the clear problems with the formula and the available options for change, Congress has dragged its feet on an overhaul. This won't come as a surprise given recent criticisms of the "do-nothing" Congress that suffered from low productivity rates and low approval ratings. But the problem actually spans decades.