Title I AFF - UMich Camp.docx - 1ac 1ac equity Contention 1 Equity The Every Student Succeeds Act devolved education funding decisions almost entirely

Title I AFF - UMich Camp.docx - 1ac 1ac equity Contention 1...

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Unformatted text preview: 1ac 1ac equity Contention 1: Equity The Every Student Succeeds Act devolved education funding decisions almost entirely to the states. The result will be rapidly escalating inequality where more Title I funding goes to the wealthiest schools Black, 17 - Professor of Law, University of South Carolina School of Law (Derek, “Abandoning the Federal Role in Education: The Every Student Succeeds Act”, 102 CALIFORNIA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 105:101, SSRN) On December 10, 2015, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act underwent drastic changes. Congress reauthorized the Act under the popularly titled bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).5 To the delight of states and school districts, the ESSA eliminated the punitive testing and accountability measures of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).6 But in the fervor to end the NCLB, few stopped to seriously consider the wisdom of what replaced it.7 The new Act, the ESSA, moves education in a direction that was unthinkable just a few short years ago: no definite equity provisions, no demands for specific student achievement, and no enforcement mechanism to prompt states to consistently pursue equity or achievement. The ESSA reverses the federal role in education and returns nearly full discretion to the states.8 Although state discretion in some contexts can ensure an appropriate balance of state and federal power,9 state discretion on issues of educational equality for disadvantaged students has proven particularly corrosive in the past. Most prominently, states and local districts vigorously resisted school integration for at least two decades following Brown v. Board of Education. 10 In fact, this very resistance made the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 necessary.11 State resistance to equality, however, extends well beyond desegregation. Over the last decade, states have significantly cut education funding and have refused to reinstate funding even as their economies improved.12 The effects of these cuts often have hit low-income and minority school districts hardest.13 This regression marks a troubling new era in which states are willing to actively disregard their duty under state constitutions to deliver equal educational opportunities.14 Although complete discretion allows states to adapt solutions to local needs, it also allows states to ignore the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s historical mission of equal opportunity and supplemental resources for low-income students. The ESSA’s framework will, in effect, make equal educational opportunity a random occurrence rather than a legal guarantee. First, the ESSA grants states nearly unfettered discretion to create school performance systems and set goals. States are largely free to weight test results and soft variables however they see fit. 15 With this discretion, as many as fifty disparate state systems could follow. Second, even assuming states adopt reasonable performance systems, the ESSA does not specify the remedies or interventions that states must implement when schools underperform.16 Third, the ESSA undermines principles that have long stood at the center of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s mission to ensure equal access to resources.17 In particular, the ESSA weakens two equity standards18 and leaves a significant loophole in a third one that, in effect, exempts 80 percent of school expenditures from equity analyses. 19 To make matters worse, Congress did not include any significant increases in federal funding and instead afforded states more discretion in spending existing funds.20 This random and uncertain approach to equality ultimately will render the ESSA an incoherent extension of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. During the past half century, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has embraced differing theories of how best to achieve equal educational opportunity. The early decades focused most heavily on educational inputs, whereas recent decades focused more on educational outcomes.21 But no reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has ever fundamentally abandoned both inputs and outputs as levers for equality—until the ESSA. Without one of those commitments, the ESSA undermines its own raison d’être: improving education for low-income students by providing federal resources where states fall short.22 In place of this historical premise, the ESSA provides that states should decide the level of resources students receive and the standards to which they aspire. It removes the federal government from education at the cost of equal education for low-income students. The ESSA thus raises a fundamental question: What role should the federal government play in education? Traditionally, the federal government is involved in education because education is in our national interest, the Constitution commits the nation to equality, and educational shortfalls by states remain rampant.23 According to national assessments of student achievement, only one-third of students are proficient in math and reading, and low-income and minority students’ achievement lags three years behind their peers by the eighth grade.24 Substantial portions of this gap owe in no small part to the poor educational opportunities that states provide to many students.25 In real dollar terms, thirtyone states funded education at a lower level in 2014 than they did in 2008. 26 Likewise, recent data show that half of the states fund districts serving predominantly poor students at lower levels than they do districts serving predominantly middle-income and wealthy students.27 To achieve their potential, low-income students require more resources than their peers—not less.28 ESSA weakened Title I’s comparability, maintenance of effort and supplement not supplant standards – that makes the vast majority of school financing exempt from equity requirements Black, 17 - Professor of Law, University of South Carolina School of Law (Derek, “Abandoning the Federal Role in Education: The Every Student Succeeds Act”, 102 CALIFORNIA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 105:101, SSRN)//DH The randomized guarantee of output equality might be mitigated or cured if instead the ESSA’s goal was to ensure equal inputs and resources. Equal inputs are easier to achieve than equal outputs. Equal inputs, if implemented properly, may also be a better indicator of equal educational opportunity than raw outcomes.254 An initial premise of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was exactly that —to provide supplemental resources to disadvantaged students to bring their educational outcomes closer to that of their peers.255 The ESSA drifts further away from this focus on inputs. In conjunction with the prior Section, this means that the ESSA assures equality in neither inputs nor outputs. Some of the fault lies with historical holdovers. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act has long contained a provision requiring comparable resources between Title I and non-Title I schools. In practice, however, nothing of the sort has been required in recent decades. During the early 1970s, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and its implementing regulations required that expenditures at Title I schools be within 5 percent of the expenditures at other schools within their district.256 That number was later changed to 10 percent and eventually abandoned altogether.257 In place of numerical measures of equality, recent versions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act have required that Title I schools merely be “substantially comparable” to other schools in the district, based on school services “as a whole.”258 This vague and forgiving standard has not required meaningful equity between schools for some time. In addition, the comparability requirement does not apply across district lines, even though the largest funding inequalities exist between school districts. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act has never purported to address interdistrict inequality and the ESSA does nothing to change this or any other significant equity demand. Instead, the ESSA retains the blunt statutory provision that “[n]othing in this subchapter shall be construed to mandate equalized spending per pupil for a State, local educational agency, or school.”259 Embedded in these weak equity standards is an even bigger and more troubling loophole for teacher salaries. Teacher salaries regularly comprise 80 to 90 percent of school budgets.260 In the past few iterations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, schools’ total expenditures for teacher salaries have been exempted from analysis. Rather than examine salary expenditures, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has asked two questions: (1) whether there is a uniform salary schedule across the district, and (2) whether staffing ratios are roughly similar. In other words, so long as schools have similar student-teacher ratios and all first-year teachers, for instance, are equally compensated, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act treats the schools as substantially comparable. This standard completely ignores the fact that the teaching staffs at schools often look entirely different in terms of quality. Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a district could assign all first-year teachers to a high-poverty school and all teachers with advanced degrees, national certifications, and several years of experience to a school serving predominantly middle-income students. This alone would likely create not only a huge quality gap between schools but also a huge funding gap. A uniform salary schedule that dictates much higher salaries for highly credentialed teachers would net hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional expenditures at the middle-income school. Yet, under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s weak equity standards and teacher loophole, this quality and funding gap is entirely permissible. Data reveals that districts regularly exploit this loophole. Schools serving large percentages of low-income and minority students are wildly unequal in their ability to attract, compensate, and retain quality teachers.261 On average, poor and minority students are exposed to inexperienced, uncredentialed, and unqualified teachers at twice the rate as other students.262 The financial consequences of this unequal distribution follow automatically. The Department of Education indicates that in districts with twenty or more schools, 72 percent of school districts spend less on teacher salaries in Title I schools less than in nonTitle I schools in the district, with an average gap of over $2,500 per teacher.263 A separate study found that states and local districts would need to allocate $6.83 billion nationally to close the funding gap created by teacher salaries.264 That the ESSA continues these lax equity standards and loopholes is remarkable. Scholars, policy reports, the media, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and even the Department of Education itself have emphasized how ineffectual the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has been in ensuring equal treatment in school expenditures in recent years.265 Secretary John King recently remarked, “The current system is not fair. . . . ‘What we see, as we look around the country, is districts where they’re actually spending significantly more in their non-Title I schools than they’re spending in their Title I schools.’”266 A host of studies also demonstrate that access to quality teachers may have the largest impact on student achievement of any factor.267 For that reason, the Department of Education recently emphasized that unequal access to teachers may violate Title VI’s prohibition on racial discrimination.268 Yet, the ESSA ignored both issues of funding and teacher inequalities. In some respects, the ESSA asks even less than the NCLB in regard to equity. The ESSA relaxes both the maintenance of effort standard and the prohibition on supplanting local funds.269 Weakening these standards makes it easier for districts to mask their unequal funding practices. With fewer limits on how federal dollars are spent, districts can use federal dollars to fill the local funding deficits that districts create through their own fiscal policies.270 Districts might even expand funding inequalities and deficits in local expenditures because they have more flexibility with federal funds . As Part III.B will detail, Secretary King sought to block this eventuality through regulation but faced congressional rebuke for doing so.271 Title I funding formulas favor wealthier districts Black, 17 - Professor of Law, University of South Carolina School of Law (Derek, “Abandoning the Federal Role in Education: The Every Student Succeeds Act”, 102 CALIFORNIA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 105:101, SSRN)//DH The ESSA, however, did almost nothing to ensure adequacy moving forward. First, whereas the NCLB substantially increased federal funding for low-income students, the ESSA leaves funding flat. Second, the ESSA does nothing to improve the way existing funds target student need. Instead, the ESSA continues a pattern of distributing federal funds by happenstance. This happenstance distribution is a product of ill-conceived weights in the funding formula for district size, states with small student populations, and poverty concentrations.284 Some of these factors counteract one another and others are simply based on false assumptions.285 The overly broad distribution of federal funds is a product of the fact that a district only needs 2 percent poverty to receive Title I funds, a threshold that nearly every district in the nation meets. 286 As a result of the formulas, federal funds that might otherwise meet the need of high-poverty districts go to predominantly middle-income and wealthy districts. A recent study found that “20 percent of all Title I money for poor students—$2.6 billion—ends up in school districts with a higher proportion of wealthy families.”287 For instance, the “Montgomery County Schools in Maryland, an elite suburb outside Washington, get nearly $26 million [in Title I funding], despite a child poverty rate of 8.4 percent.”288 Moreover, the average per-pupil Title I allotment for wealthier districts is larger than that of schools with the highest poverty levels.289 A similar phenomenon occurs across state lines, with the wealthiest states receiving the largest per-pupil grants.290 Unequal funding denies millions access to an excellent education Robinson, 15 - Professor, University of Richmond School of Law (Kimberly, “Disrupting Education Federalism” WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [VOL. 92:959, df The United States continues to tolerate a longstanding educational opportunity gap. Today, it relegates at least ten million students in low-income neighborhoods and millions more minority students to poorly performing teachers, substandard facilities, and other inferior educational opportunities. n1 This occurs in part because the United States invests more money in high-income districts than in lowincome districts, a sharp contrast to other developed nations. n2 Scholars and court decisions also have documented the sizeable intrastate disparities in educational opportunity. n3 In addition, interstate inequalities in educational opportunity represent the largest component of disparities in educational opportunity. n4 The harmful nature of interstate disparities falls hardest on disadvantaged schoolchildren who have the most educational needs, n5 and states do not [*962] possess the resources and capacity to address the full scope of these disparities. n6 Furthermore, research confirms that as the gap in wealth has grown between low-income and high-income families, the achievement gap between children in low-income and high-income families also has widened. n7 The consequences are devastating and fuel school-to-prison pipelines Meanes, 16 – Partner @Thompson Coburn, LLP; President @ National Bar Association 2014-15. J.D., University of Iowa; M.A., Clark Atlanta University; B.A., Monmouth College (Pamela J., “SCHOOL INEQUALITY: CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS: Allen Chair Issue 2016: SCHOOL DISCIPLINE POLICIES: EQUITY IN AMERICAN EDUCATION: THE INTERSECTION OF RACE, CLASS, AND EDUCATION,” University of Richmond Law Review, 3/16, Lexis, 50 U. Rich. L. Rev. 1075)//JLE III. Inequitable School Funding "We must recognize the full human equality of all of our people ... . We must do this, not because it is economically advantageous, although it is; not because the laws of God command it, although they do; not because people in other lands wish it so. We must do it for the single and fundamental reason that it is the right thing to do." n42 - Robert Kennedy While school funding mechanisms vary from state to state, economically disadvantaged com-munities feature schools and school districts that are not as well funded as those in affluent communities. n43 In fact, today that is the case in twenty-four states. n44 This is rooted in the fact that many schools are funded to a significant extent by local property taxes. With this system, less money is generated by taxes collected from areas with lower property tax valuation. n45 Those same economically disadvantaged areas generate lower sales tax revenue as well. n46 Adding insult to injury, property tax rates are often significantly higher in poor areas, as districts struggle to col-lect enough revenue [*1083] to operate. n47 So, it is not unusual for low income home owners to face much higher property tax rates - for their community's underfunded, poor-performing schools - than their more affluent counter-parts. Parents and property owners face steep property taxes that fund what are inevitably failing schools. School funding systems based on property value condemn innocent children born in poor communities - both ur-ban and rural - to marginal educations and nearly no chance at economic opportunity . n48 These children, trapped in underfunded and understaffed schools, will then live out their lives in the correctional system, on public assistance, or barely "getting by." In any case, they will grow up to be adults who are an expense to society , rather than becoming contributing taxpayers. Inequality kills tens of thousands each year Bezruchka, ‘14 — Senior Lecturer in Health Services and Global Health at the School of Public Health at the University of Washington, holds a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University and an M.D. from Stanford University (“Inequality Kills,” Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality, Edited by David Cay Johnston, p.194-195) Everyone in a society gains when children grow up to be healthy adults. The rest of the world seems to understand this simple fact, and only three countries in the world don’t have a policy, at least on the books, for paid maternal leave – Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and the United States. What does that say about our understanding , or concern about the health of our youth? Differences in mortality rates are not just a statistical concern—they reflect suffering and pain for very real individuals and families. The higher mortality in the United States is an example of what Paul Farmer, the noted physician and anthropologist, calls structural violence. The forty-seven infant deaths occur every day because of the way society in the United States is structured, resulting in our health status being that of a middle-income country, not a rich country. There is growing evidence that the factor most responsible for the relatively poor health in the United States is the vast and rising inequality in wealth and income that we not only tolerate, but resist changing. Inequality is the central element, the upstream cause of the social disadvantage described in the IOM report. A political system that fosters inequality limits the attainment of health. The claim that economic inequality is a major reason for our poor health requires tha...
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