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A Simple Solution to a Complicated Problem

April 30, 2021

In his state of the union speech where he outlined the broad proposals for federal spending for the coming year, President Biden recommended increases in several promising areas. The most crucial change the President intimidated he was willing to tackle was equity in funding at the STATE level, an undertaking that Chalkbeat writer Matt Barnum notes would be politically complicated. Unfortunately, as noted in earlier posts on Title One, the initial formula was flawed by the political reality that in order to provide EVERY district with SOME funding the formula was based on a capitation model whereby districts got funding for every child from a household where funds were limited. This means that if the Title One formula is used to allocated funds that massive sums of FEDERAL money would be needed to offset the wide disparities that exist due to flaws in the STATE funding formulas. In effect, this means that residents in less affluent and/or more equity-committed states with equitable funding formulas would be compensating more affluent and/or less equity committed states for their decisions to underfund schools. 

The question Matt Barnum poses is this: How can the federal government leverage change at the state level? The answer: the Federal government could offer to fully fund the 40% promised for special education to any state who addresses the lawsuits filed flagging their inequitable funding formulas. 

I hope to write more on this idea in future posts… because it WOULD be a means of solving two problems without getting entangled in yet another debate on federal funding formulas. 


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