The intense competition of the global economy demands that all of America’s young people receive the kind of education they need and deserve. Yet to make that happen, the United States must confront the fact that inequality continues to plague its public schools.
One of the most harmful manifestations of this is that local school district funding is allocated in a way that hurts poor and minority students. And, indirectly, existing federal legislation condones and has historically supported these funding practices. Federal education-funding requirements, in short, exacerbate existing inequality in education at the local level.
This happens because of language in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the so-called “comparability provision” that was supposed to promote equality of education but indeed does not. Its basic notion is that state and local funds for schools should be equitable before federal Title I funds are added to schools with large concentrations of low-income students. The comparability provision, however, also contains what some of us consider to be a loophole that allows long-standing ways that local funds have been…
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