Argument for Title I Portability Carries No Weight
Reason Foundation report is all polemics, not research
A new review finds no support in a recent Reason Foundation report for its claims that making federal Title I funds “portable” would remedy funding inequities. Portability means that the funding would follow poor children from one school to another.
Gail Sunderman of the University of Maryland reviewed Federal School Finance Reform: Moving Toward Title I Funding Following the Child for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.
Professor Sunderman is senior research scientist at the University of Maryland College of Education, and she is director of the Maryland Equity Project. Her research examines the impact of policy on educational opportunities for low-income and minority students. She has also examined implications of federal education policy, including Title I programs and No Child Left Behind, and she edited the book, Charting Reform: Achieving Equity in a Diverse Society, which examines the impact of social and educational policies and practices on educational inequities.
Title I is the primary federal funding policy aimed at improving educational opportunity for children growing up in poverty. The Reason Foundation report, Federal School Finance Reform, is authored by Katie Furtick and Lisa Snell, and it argues that the federal Title I program as currently structured does not address funding inequities between Title I and non-Title I schools. The report also contends that regulations governing the program negate its effectiveness.
The report recommends making Title I portable, so that the funds follow individual children when they change schools, a policy change that would advance school choice.
Sunderman writes that the report lacks the necessary evidence to support its arguments. Instead, she writes, it relies on rhetoric and on a misleading use of research that ignores conflicting evidence.
The report also ignores the complexity of federal education funding, including of Title I, and it fails to analyze the factors that it claims causes the purported problems in the program. It offers no evidence that its prescription would improve academic outcomes, and it ignores how its proposal would hurt, rather than improve, educational opportunities, Sunderman adds. By allowing funding to flow out of the public school system, portability would exacerbate existing inequities between Title I and non-Title I schools.
The result is a report that “is little more than a polemic,” the review concludes, “using an eclectic assortment of disconnected facts and figures about Title I funding to promote choice and voucher policies.”
Find Gail Sunderman’s review on the NEPC website at:
Find Federal School Finance Reform: Moving Toward Title I Funding Following the Child, by Katie Furtick and Lisa Snell and published by the Reason Foundation, on the web at:
The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.
This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.
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