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A-PLUS Equals a Minus for Title I
The Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act (A-PLUS Act), just introduced in the US Senate, claims to help close achievement gaps by increasing spending flexibility and reducing regulations. In reality, it could unravel Title I, and is part of a larger, deeply troubling legislative strategy that would rip federal resources away from the populations who most need that support.
As Mike Petrilli of The Fordham Foundation notes, even those who disagree on lots of ESEA issues agree that the “A-PLUS Act could strip money from needy students.”
Introduced by Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), and David Vitter (R-La.), the bill would let states consolidate federal, state, and local resources for educational programs that improve the academic achievement of disadvantaged students. In short, it would allow states to transfer money out of Title I—the federal government’s largest and most critical program for the education of low-income K-12 students—and into any other federal, state, or local programs that might—even in the most minimal way—benefit some low-income students.
Under current law, states have a great deal of flexibility and latitude to consolidate funds. They are allowed move money between the various titles of the ESEA and can transfer additional funds into Title I. But the law forbids states from transferring funds out of Title I and away from these most vulnerable students—students who are too often shortchanged by their school districts and states. The main effect, then, of A-PLUS, would be to remove this provision and allow states to move funds out of Title I and the high-poverty schools that it serves.
Although this legislation has not yet been introduced in the House of Representatives, there’s every reason to believe that it soon will. Equity advocates need to prepare to work hard against this bill, which threatens to do grave damage to low-income students.