Sunday, June 16, 2024

Opinion | Change Title I funding rules to stem the effects of gentrification

Opinion | Change Title I funding rules to stem the effects of gentrification

The Sept. 24 Metro article “D.C. school no longer qualifies for grant” was an interesting report on how one local D.C. public school, Bancroft Elementary, had recently lost Title I funding because too many high-income families had children attending the school. The article shed light on the unconsidered impact of families choosing to send their children to a local neighborhood school that traditionally has not had means.

My family experienced the same situation when we sent our children to East Silver Spring Elementary School in Montgomery County Public Schools. The school had been Title I (receiving numerous extra resources). Yet when families such as mine decided to send their children to the school, the percentage of families on free and reduced meals dropped, and the school’s Title I status was removed, stripping many extra dollars supporting the school. Sadly, those dollars meant that not only my children but also many other children without the same resources as my children were left without extra opportunities for smaller classes, more academic support and even extracurricular opportunities such as field trips.

As a society, it has been seen as a good thing when families with means decide to send their children to schools that traditionally have not had means. It is seen as a way to have less segregation in our schools (both racially and socio-economically). Yet only when I experienced what I did with my daughters did I consider the impact of families such as mine choosing their local school. Our principal at the time even implied that having families such as mine choose to attend the school led to it losing its Title I funding.

My recommendation is that Title I funding not be based solely on one percentage marker (where a school either is or isn’t Title I). Rather, schools should receive a percentage of the total of Title I funding based on the number of students receiving free or reduced meals. Yes, this might somewhat lessen the total amount of dollars a school without means would receive. Yet it also would help make sure that students who do need support can receive that support without suddenly changing from something to nothing.

John Seelke, Silver Spring

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