White House Report Harsh on Title I Portability, Funding in House ESEA Bill

A report issued today by the White House strongly criticizes legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), cleared Wednesday by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  The report criticizes the set appropriation levels in the legislation, which would hold funding for all ESEA programs at approximately current levels through 2021.  The White House says this would amount to an average effective cut of 15% in many high-poverty school districts given projected growth in population and need, and that some districts could see an effective cut as large as 74%.
But the report saves its harshest language for the proposed Title I “portability” provision in the bill.  This provision would allow States to set up a system where Title I-A funds are allocated to districts, and then to schools, based on the number of poor students in attendance.  According to the report, this change “would allow States to spread Title I funds thinly across the wealthiest districts, doing less good, while sending less funding to many districts that need it most” and would “undermine the half-century mission of Title I to provide critical support to the schools and districts with the highest concentrations of poverty.”
According to the White House, schools in districts with concentrations of poverty above 25% would lose up to $700 million in funding, while districts with the lowest concentrations of poverty would gain up to $470 million.  Among those school districts the White House believes would see the biggest losses are Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia.
In the report, the White House also expresses concern that the House bill would walk back accountability for federal dollars, allowing “tens of billions of dollars to flow to States, districts, and schools without any expectation that States use that money to ensure that all students – including students with disabilities, English learners, and students from racial and ethnic minorities – are achieving at levels that will prepare them for a college and career by the time they finish high school.”
The report is available here.
Lauren Camera, “White House Report Blasts House Republicans’ NCLB Rewrite,” Education Week: Politics K-12February 13, 2015.

About the Author

Julia Martin is an attorney with the Washington, DC law firm of Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC. Established in 1980, the Firm is nationally recognized for its federal education regulatory and legislative practice, providing legal advice regarding compliance with all major federal education programs as well as the federal grants management requirements, including the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). In addition, they work with agencies on federal spending flexibility, allowability, policies and procedures, audit defense and resolution and legislative updates. The Firm provides government relations services for the National Title I Association.