Never mind the fact that federal oversight of any sort is an overreach of executive power and wholly unconstitutional, Title I funding makes its case for the nation’s least necessary program in its results. Notice I didn’t say lack of results. Generally speaking, the federal government has a knack for spending boatloads of money with no results, but to shovel money at a problem only to exacerbate it? That takes a certain skill set that can only be found in a Washington bureaucrat.
NYU’s Institute for Education and Social Policy released, under the radar, its report on the effectiveness of the federal Title I program. The program, a part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as the beginning of the end of state-controlled education), was created to subsidize state’s based on the amount of low-income students in their population. The researchers found that:
Title I spending does not improve the achievement of students and may even reduce school-wide average test scores… …in elementary and middle schools. These effects for both spending and scores seem to increase with the length of time schools are Title I eligible and to be stronger for ones that are always Title I eligible compared to those that go in and out of eligibility.
One of the most noted goals of the Title I program today is an attempt to narrow the achievement gap and level the academic playing field. Sadly, again the program fails:
Additional amounts of funds that Title I schools receive, compared to non-Title I schools, seem not to narrow the achievement gaps between poor student and their more advantaged peers.
The authors of the report give one hypothesis for their findings, citing all the strings that are attached to federal money and the overwhelming bureaucracy as reasons for the program’s failure:
For schools near the cutoff, the administrative burden of accounting for and using the extra Title I funding is large relative to the benefits. Strings may be attached, such as making sure only Title I eligible students are served, that make the money ineffective. In addition, in elementary and middle schools it is clear that [local] funds go down, so that the net amount of additional funding is not great.
I would tend to agree with this assessment only to add one additional hypothesis: The inherent widening of the gap between education product and education consumer as a result of federal oversight, removes power from parents and autonomy from localities which removes any system of accountability that may have been working.