Monday, September 29, 2008

The Education of a Person, Part 3

Part 1: The Question

Part 2: What is No Child Left Behind?

Today, Part 3: Funding and who NCLB affects


In Part 2, I asked the question, Who is affected by the No Child Left Behind Act?


In order to answer that, it is important to understand how public schools receive their funding. Public schools are either TITLE I or NON-TITLE I. What’s the difference? The short answer is that a Title I school is located in an area of financial need (often called “low-income” or “in poverty”) and a Non-Title I school is not. (Schools in poverty are defined by the percentage of low-income students. Low-income students are defined as those meeting free or reduced-price lunch criteria.) Title I schools receive funding from the Federal Government, and are therefore subject to the requirements set out by the No Child Left Behind Act. Title I schools also receive funding from their state and local district; however, because these districts are already identified as being of lower income, it is likely that sufficient funds are lacking. Non-Title I schools do not receive any funding from the federal government under the NCLB legislation. Non-Title I schools funding comes entirely from state and local budgets, and therefore these schools are not subject to the requirements set out by the No Child Left Behind Act. However, many states align their own educational requirements along side those of the Federal government, the very ones that are required for Title I schools to receive federal funding. So, while non-Title I schools may not be penalized for meeting federal educational standards, they may be penalized for not meeting state or local educational standards, and THAT is where non-Title I schools receive all of their funding.

How do I find out if my school is a Title I school?

Just click here. Oh, that link isn’t working??? That’s because there is no national database listing all schools which receive Title I funds. I think it’s stupid too. But, you can go here and get the contact information for your state’s department of education. You can call them and ask. Or, just ask at your school. Likely, they don’t make that information too public unless someone really wants to ask the right person.


So what does a Title I school do with all the funding they get?

Title I schools use Federal money to develop and implement programs for students which have been scientifically proven to encourage learning and produce advancement. These programs include early reading programs, summer school, and special programs for children to raise literacy and help those with limited English ability, as well as programs for kids to develop math skills. Also, Title I schools can use some of the money for school improvement (the physical structure) as well as expanding private school choice and supplemental educational services options for Title I schools that have been identified for improvement. Additionally, funds will be given to schools to improve math and reading instruction K-12 (now that those kids in the younger grades are growing up). You can see the information here.


How much funding do they get?

That’s a good question. You will find different answers to that question, based on what document you read. The problem is that there are so many subgroups that receive funds, it’s hard to get a total. Here’s the best estimate I could find: Back in 2002, the amount was $22.19 billion. In 2007, the amount was $23.66 (which should have been adjusted higher to reflect inflation & enrollment growth. The proposals for 2008 and 2009 are $24.6 billion and $24.72 billion, respectively. You can see some of the specifics here.


How do schools actually receive the funding?

Remember that schools are run by state and local agencies. The Federal Government has no jurisdiction over schools, nor can they make any formal decisions about the running of those schools (although they do control the money that some schools get). Also remember, though, that quite often state and local agencies will align their policies (to which the schools DO have to adhere) with the guidelines of the Federal Government. The Federal Government hands out a majority of the money from their budget to the local education agencies (LEA). These LEA’s decide how the money is spent. (Other funds are used from the Federal budget for education, but those funds don’t have to do with No Child Left Behind. Those funds are used for things like Pell Grants and for funding programs which help secondary and post-secondary students who may be economically disadvantaged or do not speak English as their native language.)


I’m still trying to figure out if the “Highly Qualified Teacher” requirement is only for teachers at Title I schools, or for teachers at any school in the US. If it is required for any school, then it would be reasonable to say that there are NCLB funds available to any school (Title I or Non-Title I) for teacher improvement programs. Also, same question/argument for funds used to develop, improve, and implement standardized tests. However, those funds wouldn’t go directly to schools but rather to state agencies doing the development, so maybe it’s not quite the same question.

What does funding have to do with my kid taking all these standardized tests?

Title I schools receive funding according to whether or not their students in grades 3-8 are making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). States must be able to determine if students are making educational progress, year after year, using an assessment that reflects measurable objectives. When schools fail to make AYP for two or more years, sanctions will be put in place. These sanctions include losing federal funding and adherence to improvement guidelines.


Okay, I hope I’m not boring you with all this information. My purpose of this series of posts really had its genesis in me learning all about NCLB and it grew into sharing with you what I’ve learned. I am finding out how little I really knew about all of this, and it is a fine example of how the media only shares with the public exactly the amount of information that can be used to shock us, inflame us, and keep us reading or watching. I think the desire to inform us may have been passed by years ago. Or, possibly, the saturation point of NCLB has come and passed so long ago that we could have been learning this whole time but we are so sick of hearing about it that we just tune it out.

The rest of this week, I intend to tackle more sides of this subject. Tuesday: student testing and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP); and finally on Wednesday: Highly Qualified Teachers (HQT). I guess I’ll try to wrap it up after that.

If you have any questions, you can always go directly to the source: the US Department of Education. Or you can call them at 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327). I called them and actually spoke to a human person and I didn’t even have to wait on hold. Of course you can always email me a question (tx.mama.4@gmail.com) and I will try to answer it as best as possible.

Looking forward to seeing you back here again tomorrow!

3 comments:

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

I am quite confused now. Aren't Title 1 schools eligible for the Robin Hood tax--I thought this was still going on--did NCLB get rid of this?

Again, clueless.....

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Hey Lisa, Here's the answer to your question:

Basically the Robin Hood Plan, for Texas, was an attempt to recapture funds from property-rich school districts and redistribute them among poorer school districts (1995). However, by 2005, the tax rates had risen so high because the state had to tax at the maximum maintenance and operation rate, and the taxes became like a state property tax, which is illegal in Texas.

So, legislation came into place so that the M&O rate was cut by a third, and local districts were encouraged to raise taxes in their own areas. THey hoped to do that through cigarette taxes. However, any tax rate increases were up to voters. It looks like the new taxes probably will not cover what the schools need.

I found all this information on Wikipedia. Some people think Wikipedia's accuracy is only marginal. But, if you want to read more about it here's the address:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Hood_plan

And, no I do not think that NCLB will have any effect on the Robin Hood plan. Schools qualify for title I funds according to how many kids in their district qualify for free or reduced lunch. Even if those districts are receiving funds from the state under the "Robin Hood" plan, they would still qualify for Title I funds.

Bridge said...

This is so interesting! I am very thrilled with the budget outlines and tables that show where the budgeted funds go and the effectiveness. Its a lot to sift through, but important since it impacts our children.

In New York State, I remember our teachers had to be licensed, degreed in the subject matter and also earn a Master's Degree in Education (unless they were grandfathered in). I think it made a huge difference...not sure if it was a state thing or a NCLB thing.