Inequity Found Within Districts in Funding for High-Poverty Schools

A new report out of the U.S. Department of Education confirms that state and local funding lags behind for schools that have high percentages of economically disadvantaged students, even though the high-poverty schools receive federal aid that is intended to provide extra help for the disadvantaged. According to this federal study, based on data collected for the first time under the recent federal Recovery Act, more than 40 percent of schools receiving Title I funds for the economically disadvantaged spent less state and local funds during the 2008-2009 school year on teachers and other personnel than did non-Title I schools at the same grade level and in the same district. This inequity persisted in spite of federal requirements that Title I schools receive resources comparable to what non-Title I schools receive. It turns out that most of the discrepancy is due to the high concentration of inexperienced—and therefore lower-paid—teachers at high-poverty schools. And a loophole in federal law allows districts to leave out of account the difference in pay based on teachers’ experience when reporting “comparable” resources for Title I purposes. The U.S. Department of Education would like to close the loophole and thereby put more pressure on school districts to eliminate inequity.