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Title I Formula Change To Benefit Rural Schools Voted Down

The rejection last week of a proposal that would've helped rural schools by changing the Title I funding formula has left rural school advocates disheartened but not defeated.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce debated the All Children Are Equal Act for a half-hour before deciding not to include it as an amendment to the Student Success Act.

The proposal would've lessened the use of number weighting, which ends up diverting money from small rural districts to larger urban districts regardless of poverty rates.

The Formula Fairness Campaign, a group of organizations (led by The Rural School and Community Trust) supporting the change, has an upbeat analysis of the detrimental vote. It says the vote was the only one taken that day that didn't fall solely along party lines; the final count was 22-16 with one abstention.

"This vote is a short-term defeat, and may or may not be the only time this Congress will address the number weighting issue this year. But clearly this issue has made the grade as a legitimate issue that both parties acknowledge must be addressed. In a less partisan atmosphere, it might have been this year," according to the Formula Fairness Campaign Web site.

Last week's vote attracted others' attention. Ed Money Watch, the blog of the New America Foundation, previewed the vote, saying it supports changing the formula "to more logically target disadvantaged students in states and school districts"

"As the lawmakers on the House Education and Workforce Committee get set to vote on the All Children are Equal Act, some might shy away from what will certainly be a complicated debate. But this pending formula fight is worth it," according to the blog.

Ed Money Watch analyzed the formula and found that in all but six states, the federal funding formula provided urban districts with more Title I funding per poor pupil than rural school districts.

The American Farm Bureau Federation noted the committee's vote and gave their take on the situation.

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