Question(s) for Politicians & School Officials

Please refer to the April 12th Senate Hearing for more details... Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated, at the hearing, that it would cost 3.9 billion or a complete overhaul of state and local financial systems to equalize spending between schools, an impossible idea not worthy of consideration, from his perspective. He abruptly left his argument there without mentioning what the future holds for public school children, specifically poor children or how they can truly be served , if at all. (Note: He also mentioned that there was a huge coalition of educational organizations that did not want the comparability loophole addressed ---from unions to state organizations.) 

In other words, he never mentioned the purpose of Title One. He never mentioned poor children --- who just happen to be the beneficiaries of Title One.  Clearly, when this omission is addressed or the children are added to the equation or discussions, the comparability loophole will become more than just a loophole: it will become  legalized theft for it allows imbalances or inequities in school funding to continue so that funds intended for poor children show up in low poverty schools, which clearly is not or was not the original intent of Title One (or President Johnson's War on Poverty). This gaming of the system has been allowed to go on for decades, which, in essence, wants the the public to believe (if they know at all) that "all teachers are created equal." If they are equal (when it comes to teacher effectiveness tied to student achievement) why is there a loophole in place allowing the majority of effective, tenured teachers to be placed in low poverty schools rather than in high poverty schools? 

For instance:

         The federal government prohibits districts from calculating comparability using actual expenditures.          Instead, it chooses to treat teachers as interchangeable widgets. For example, if School A has 10                  teachers and School B has 10 teachers, they must be providing a comparable education. It is this                loophole in federal law—the “comparability loophole”—that is at the heart of school funding                        inequities.  (Refer to: Robert Hanna, Max Marchitello, and Catherine Brown, March 2015 )

During the hearing, Senator Alexander did say that the only recourse is for parents and stakeholders to use the ESSA reporting requirement (which addresses transparency and accountability concerns) to
demand answers (and/or thorough explanations) about --- (I would say): the methodologies that states
and local districts are using to equalize spending between schools including how they are supporting the supplement not supplant p rovisions. They should ask for information about the fair distribution of effective teachers in schools where low income students attend.


What methodologies are your states and local districts using to equalize spending between schools? How are they eliminating disparities between schools "before" they receive any Title One funds? For instance, what actual expenditures are districts spending on teachers' salaries and benefits (based on the fair distribution of effective, tenured teachers in each school) before they receive federal  supplemental Title One funds? Are these methods fair and equitable? If not, how can the ESSA state flexibility provisions address these inequities?

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To contact your school district leaders, click here



Previous Questions: Do State Departments of Education  have the capacity (and political will) to develop high quality state standards, state curriculums, and state assessments? Do they have the capabilities to turn around low performing schools, in a timely manner, (or even to respond to mandated reporting requirements about school funding formulas or how the fair distribution of resources are being addressed) without federal interventions?
Hint: Senator Alexander seems convinced that all states can do the job but recent statistics work against his "off the cuff" statements. Consider this study or this article or this one ----   including:  The State - How Leadership Influences Student Learning  as well as others as you debate this topic.