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NEA Signs On to Fiscal-Equity Bill

My apologies for the long absence from blogging. I took a few days off after the conventions and then had to turn my attention to a few stories on the common-standards adoptions. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

According to this document on the National Education Association's website, the union now supports the ESEA Fiscal Fairness Act, a bill sponsored by Rep. Chaka Fattah, a Democrat from Pennsylvania.

The bill would essentially require districts to certify that more- and less-affluent schools receive comparable state and local funding—including dollars spent on teacher salaries—before they get their share of federal Title I dollars for disadvantaged students. That would come as a significant change from current Title I accounting policy, which exempts teacher salaries from the comparability calculation.

This is a surprising and noteworthy shift for the NEA. The union, along with the American Federation of Teachers, opposed an earlier bid to close the so-called comparability "loophole" in the law, back in 2007.

Both unions worried that districts would seek to forcibly transfer teachers, rather than take more careful and deliberate steps to equal out talent or overcome the disparities in other ways, like reducing class sizes in schools with many novices.

It's not clear what caused the NEA's change of heart, but unless this is a misprint of some kind, the union has decided to put its lobbying muscle behind the bill. And it certainly will have a better shot of passing as a result.

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