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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ Reacts to the Department of Education’s New Reports Findings That More than 40% of Low-Income Schools Don’t Get a Fair Share of State and Local Funds

November 30, 2011
Press Release

Today, a new report from the U.S. Department of Education documents that schools serving low-income students are being shortchanged because school districts across the country are inequitably distributing their state and local funds.  The analysis of new data on 2008-09 school-level expenditures shows that many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding, leaving students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers. Below is Congresswoman Waters' statement regarding the report's findings:

"Today's release of the Department of Education's report regarding the equal disbursement of funds into our nation's Title I schools' is proof of that there are clear and apparent issues within our nation's public school system. Federal assistance provided through Title I is intended to provide additional resources to low-income high-poverty area schools. Unfortunately this report finds the contrary and more than 40 percent of Title I schools are receiving an unequal amount of funds for educational resources than more affluent schools within the same school district by cities and state governments.

In the City of Los Angeles, one of the largest school districts in the United States, schools that were below the 100 percent threshold had an average school poverty rate of 72 percent which is almost four times  the average for non-Title I schools in the district (22 percent). The low-spending Title I schools in Los Angeles have an average per-pupil expenditure of 14 percent below the average for non-Title I schools ($2,872 vs. $3,329). This is a 227 percent difference in per-pupil funding at schools with high-poverty low-income student population. This data clearly shows that students in Title I and high-poverty areas are not getting a fair shake when it comes to quality education and adequate resources unlike their counterparts in non-Title I and low-poverty areas.

The findings of this report underscore the need for Congress to work together to ensure that low-spending Title I and  higher-poverty schools are raised up to the average funding levels found in more advantaged schools.  It is extremely vital for Title I funds go to the most deserving schools to ensure that such schools have the level of resources needed to help address the greater challenges that they face. If Title I schools do not receive adequate state and local funding comparable to other schools within the same district, then the federal investment we appropriate into Title I will not serve it's legislative purpose.

When addressing a defective mechanism within our nation's public education system, which is responsible for shutting out millions of students from obtaining an adequate education, cost should not be an issue. Unfortunately, some will argue the feasibility of rectifying these inequities. The correction of this disparity would secure a large increase in funding for low-spending, high-need schools. I would like to thank the Obama Administration for finally putting data behind an assumption that we've known and had for many years. Now that we have the data to support these assumptions, I implore my colleagues to join me in ensuring that Title I funds meet the educational needs of students it was legislated to assist."

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Below is an overview of the report's findings:

  • An estimated 18 to 28 percent of Title I districts would not be in compliance with an expenditures-based comparability requirement, depending on the specifications of the requirement.
  • On average, the estimated cost of complying with an expenditures-based comparability requirement amounts to just 1 to 4 percent of school-level expenditures in affected districts.
  • Low-spending Title I schools and higher-poverty schools would see their per-pupil expenditures rise by an average of 4 to 15 percent.
  • Low-spending schools that would benefit from expenditures-based comparability have much higher poverty rates than other schools in their districts.