A Letter to the Senate HELP Committee: We Oppose Title I Portability

On Tuesday, January 26, AFSA, along with several other national education organizations, sent out a letter to members of the Senate HELP Commitee voicing their opinion on why are strongly opposed to a provision included in Senator Alexander’s discussion draft to reauthorize ESEA that would dismantle the Title I formula.

The issue, providing states the option of making Title I funding “portable”, would allow Title I funding to follow students to another school. This undermines Title I’s fundamental purpose —to assist public schools with high concentrations of poverty and high-need students, and denies districts the ability to target the funds to where they are most needed.

In addition, this provision would lead many states to use the funds for vouchers, which would allow public funds to move to both public and private schools. Some Title I portability proposals have been limited to public school portability, but they are designed to make it easier for states to implement private school vouchers as a next step. Accordingly, AFSA opposes any attempts to include provisions supporting Title I public school portability in a reauthorized ESEA —even if it limits portability to public schools.

The letter starts off with:

Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:

The undersigned organizations write to express our strong opposition to inclusion of the provision in the “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015” that would dismantle the Title I funding formula. The current draft would provide states the option of making Title I funding “portable” by allowing the money to follow a child to a public school. This proposal would undermine Title I’s fundamental purpose of assisting public schools with high concentrations of poverty and high-need students. Furthermore, Title I portability—even when limited to public schools—is a stepping-stone to private school vouchers.

Portability Undermines Title I’s Goal of Addressing Achievement Gaps in Poor Schools 

Congress adopted Title I in 1965 to ensure that districts and schools serving large concentrations of students in poverty received a greater portion of federal funds to address the compounded impact of poverty on student learning. High-poverty school districts and schools benefit from increased federal investment by taking advantage of “economies of scale” to combine resources for school-wide services and whole school reforms targeted at economically and academically needy groups of students. However, the discussion draft of the “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015,” however, contains a portability provision that would dismantle the Title I funding formula, diluting the funds and their ability to address the needs of the very students Title I funding is intended to assist.

Read the full letter here: NCPE Alexander Portability Sign-on.

Check out ED Weeks coverage of the letter here.