Education Pre K-12
February 15th, 2024 2 Minute Read Press Release

New Issue Brief: Why Title I Is Failing, and How It Can Be Transformed

The nation’s low-income students and their families deserve better—and more—options

New York, NY – American K-12 education is undergoing a revolution, with the parental rights and education choice movements scoring key victories since the pandemic period of extended school closures. As student learning loss persists, federal pandemic aid runs out, and enrollment numbers decline, the federal government’s role in promoting education requires a closer look. A new Manhattan Institute issue brief from senior fellow Ray Domanico offers a timely, comprehensive analysis of the history and current state of the largest program of federal support for elementary and secondary education in the United States: Title I.

Domanico traces the role of the civil rights movement in the genesis of this program; offers a snapshot of the contributions it has made to school districts over the decades; assesses its effectiveness through a review of relevant social science literature; explains how Title I funding is calculated; analyzes the recent popular resistance to a federal education agenda; and concludes with recommendations for modernizing the program and increasing its effectiveness, including:

  • Promote Education Savings Accounts (ESAs): placing Title I funds in the hands of eligible families promotes more effective use of funds. States with full-choice ESA programs offer valuable test cases, while those without ESA programs could be allowed to allocate Title I funding to fit their particular needs.
  • Turn Title I into a national scholarship or tax credit program: while unlikely to happen for political reasons, this would give low-income families greater educational freedom.
  • Limit bureaucratic funding: state education departments currently collect one percent of Title I funding for their own administrative budget, totaling $140 million every year. More local and family control over funding diminishes the rationale for spending on bureaucracy.

Read the full issue brief here.


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