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Campaign for Educational Equity Announces "Stimulating Equity?" Project

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Published: 7/15/2009 11:00:00 AM

Serious concerns are arising among education advocates, as well as within the federal government, regarding States’ use of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“ARRA”) education stimulus funds. On Wednesday, June 18, 2009, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan warned states that they may lose out on available stimulus money if the State has “disproportionately reduced its education budget” or uses the funds to do “nothing more than backfill budget holes.” Secretary Duncan specifically admonished the Pennsylvania State Senate for its plan to disproportionately reduce its education budget in anticipation of the state’s receipt of the federal stimulus funds. Several other states, including Texas and Connecticut, have been publicly cited for possible inappropriate use of the funds.

The Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University recently launched an in-depth research effort to evaluate the impact of the ARRA on state education systems around the country. The ARRA has created a unique opportunity for nation-wide education reform, as it infuses billions of new dollars into state education funds and includes specific language in support of adequacy and equity. The Campaign seeks to evaluate States’ efforts to advance reform in four key areas outlined in the act: 1) improving teacher effectiveness; 2) making progress toward college and career-ready standards and rigorous assessments; 3) enhancing data systems to track educational practice; and 4) improving achievement in low-performing schools.

The Campaign’s “Stimulating Equity?" Project will also track and analyze the use of the education stabilization funds and evaluate the overall impact of the stabilization package on educational equity. Early indications from our research suggest that many states may primarily be using the ARRA stabilization money to fill budget gaps, rather than to advance new education initiatives. Some states also seem to be neglecting the bill’s provisions that call for allowing existing state formulae increases that would phase in state equity and adequacy adjustments to be implemented. Advocates from Georgia, New Jersey and New York have asked Secretary Duncan to look into possible violations of these requirements by their states.

As the implementation of the ARRA’s education provisions is still in its early phases, many complexities and ambiguities have arisen regarding States’ proposed uses of the funds. In an effort to advance our research efforts, the Campaign would greatly appreciate input from policy makers and education advocates regarding how the federal funds are being used within their state. If you have any information regarding your state’s utilization of the funds, and how this may advance or detract from the purpose of promoting educational equity, please reach out to us by sending relevant information by e-mail to:

“Stimulating Equity?” Project
525 West 120th Street, Box 219
New York, NY 10027

or by calling Pawanpreet Dhaliwal at 212-678-3028