Title I funds
BY World's Editorials Writers
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
11/21/12 at 3:37 AM
Schools with the highest percentages of children from low-income families receive federal Title I funds that help ensure that all children meet state academic standards based on standardized tests. Some of the Title I funds are set aside to pay for interventions at sites identified by the state as "priority" (lowest-performing) or "focus" (greatest academic achievement gaps) schools.
Unfortunately state Superintendent Janet Barresi's Department of Education has not released the official "priority" and "focus" designations that schools such as Tulsa's McKinley Elementary must have in order to receive the federal funds set aside to help them.
McKinley, which is ranked among the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in the state, planned to offer research-based instructional interventions and three extra hours a week of after-school help for struggling students. But it can't do that because the funds are tied up by the state department.
Set-aside funds for Tulsa Public Schools alone amount to $3.4 million, or 20 percent of the district's total Title I funds. Similar situations exist in districts across the state.
McKinley and its students have been labeled as low-performing and the school's principal and faculty are anxious to take steps to address the issue. But they are hamstrung by the state department's bungling.
As usual, Barresi's department has an excuse and it is to blame the local districts. A spokeswoman said she didn't know when the overdue "priority" and "focus" designations will be made but that TPS could have proceeded with funding remedial programs based on preliminary information released in September. But if it did so, the district would risk getting in trouble with the feds if the formal designations, whenever they might be made, didn't match the preliminary information.
Barresi and her department have done an enthusiastic job of labeling certain high school graduates and certain schools and their students as failures. They haven't been nearly so enthusiastic about providing some help.