New Data Show House Republican Bill Would Allow Billions in Cuts for Largest School Districts Serving High Populations of Black and Hispanic Students

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–February 24, 2015.  The U.S. Department of Education is releasing new data today detailing the impact of potential cuts to school districts serving high concentrations of Black and Hispanic students as a result of proposed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The data show that the House Republicans’ proposal would provide the largest 33 school districts with high concentrations of Black and Hispanic students over $3 billion less in federal funding than the President’s budget over six years. The cuts in education spending would be the result of locking funding at sequestration levels and allowing states to divert money from schools serving vulnerable student populations to wealthier districts.

“The partisan proposal in the House flies in the face of what ESEA was created to do—give every child an equal opportunity to be successful. This bill is bad for children and would turn back the clock on progress. At exactly the time we should be expanding opportunity for America’s students and helping schools recover from the recession, this bill would allow unconscionable funding cuts. Our teachers and students deserve better,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Of the 100 largest school districts in the country, the following, which serve high concentrations of Black students, could lose a total of more than $1.3 billion in federal funding: Baltimore City Public Schools (MD), Detroit City School District (MI), Prince George’s County Public Schools (MD), Shelby County School District (TN), Atlanta City School District (GA), Clayton County School District (GA), DeKalb County School District (GA), Cleveland Municipal School District (OH), Columbus City School District (OH), Milwaukee School District (WI) and Philadelphia City School District (PA). For example:

Philadelphia City School District — which is 55 percent Black, could lose $412 million.

Shelby County schools in Tennessee — which is 81 percent Black, could lose $114 million.

Of the 100 largest school districts in the country, the following, which serve high concentrations of Hispanic students, could lose a total of more than $1.9 billion in federal funding: Brownsville Independent School District (TX), Santa Ana Unified School District (CA), San Antonio Independent School District (TX), El Paso Independent School District (TX), Pasadena Independent School District, Los Angeles Unified School District (CA), San Bernardino City Unified School District (CA), Aldine Independent School District (TX), Dallas Independent School District (TX), Northside Independent School District (TX), Dade County School District (FL), Albuquerque Public Schools (NM), Fresno Unified School District (CA), Houston Independent School District (TX), Tucson Unified District (AZ), Fort Worth Independent School District (TX), Austin Independent School District (TX), Denver County School District 1 (CO), North East Independent School District (TX), Osceola County School District (FL), Long Beach Unified School District (CA) and Garland Independent School District (TX). For example:

Houston Independent School District — which is 63 percent Hispanic, could lose $205 million.

Los Angeles Unified School District — which is 74 percent Hispanic, could lose $782 million.

The data the Department are releasing today build on the White House report, Investing in our Future: Helping Teachers and Schools Prepare Our Children for College and Careers, lock in sequestration funding levels, eliminate accountability for taxpayer dollars, detailing how the House Republican proposal will affect states and school districts across the country.

The House Republican proposal would deny resources to students and teachers in the following respects:

Capping federal education spending through 2021, it would never reverse the $800 million in sequestration cuts made since 2012 or keep up with inflation or enrollment growth. In Title I alone, a program that provides support to schools that need it most, the bill would provide over $7 billion less to schools than the President’s budget over six years.

Allowing even greater cuts to schools that need help most by permitting states to redirect federal resources to wealthier communities. Students attending schools in districts with a concentration of poverty above 25 percent could lose $700 million in funding, while districts with low concentrations of poverty gain $470 million. Some high-poverty school districts could see cuts as large as 74 percent.

Failing to close a loophole in the current law that allows inequity in state and local school funding, resulting in wealthier schools receiving more funding than their less affluent counterparts.

Eliminating guarantees that education funding reaches the classroom. As a result, it opens the door for state and local funds to be diverted from education investments to sports stadiums and other unrelated pet projects.

Failing to stand up for taxpayers by allowing tens of billions of dollars to flow to states, districts and schools without ensuring that it will improve student learning.

The Obama Administration has called for a bipartisan overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—also known as No Child Left Behind—with a law that not only ensures students are prepared for college, careers and life, but also delivers on the promise of equity and real opportunity for every child. The Administration’s vision for the new law includes giving teachers and principals the resources they need, expanding high-quality preschool for families, supporting schools and districts in creating innovative new solutions, and ensuring accountability for low-performing schools and performance of traditionally underserved populations.