Home > Uncategorized > ESSA and ACA: The Consequences of Expecting States to Contribute

ESSA and ACA: The Consequences of Expecting States to Contribute

September 17, 2016

Earlier this week, the Washington Post ran an article by Carolyn Y. Johnson that featured two maps that illustrated why the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) failed to help reduce the rate of uninsured Americans. One showing the percentage of individuals in a State who are covered by health insurance: imrs-php


The other map showed the states who chose to expand Medicaid, which was the means the ACA intended to use to expand health coverage:


I offer these maps to show what is likely to happen should the Republican’s notion of allowing federal funds to supplant local spending as compared to the Democrat’s notion of using federal funds for education to supplement local spending. I would expect many states to continue the practice of using Federal funds to increase the per pupil spending in the districts serving children raised in poverty, which would have the effect of increasing overall per pupil spending. Other States, though, may seize on the opportunity to supplant State funds to provide “relief to taxpayers” and thereby reduce the per pupil spending.

There was a time when a Republican President— Nixon, believe it or not— provided States with supplementary block grants to help them address problems like infrastructure. Schools also received these grants, some of which were competitive and open to all districts and some of which were targeted to lower income districts. Then President Reagan bundled these together into “block grants” and diminished their overall amount on the theory that STATES could make the better determination on how those funds should be apportioned. Over time, these supplementary block grants have, for the most part, disappeared entirely or diminished to the point where applying for them cost more than their value. In many cases the grants were implicitly designed to underwrite the costs of State Departments of Education, which had been decimated in most states.

When I look at these maps I imagine that in a few years IF the supplant concept is implemented we’ll see that spending for schools has diminished in the same states where Medicaid has been denied and we’ll see a decline in NAEP scores in those same states.

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