Education Week - May 6, 2015 - (Page 22)

GOVeRNMeNT & POLITICs Renewal Watch: ESEA Efforts to Change Federal Aid Formulas Prove Tricky Winners, losers seen if cash flow revised By Lauren Camera When the Senate education committee marked up and approved a bipartisan rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act last month, one of the few issues members sparred over was changing a formula used to distribute federal funds to states and school districts for activities such as teacher preparation. Meanwhile, the committee didn't touch another complex, long-standing, and politically sensitive issue: the way Title I money for low-income students flows to states and districts. Though, in theory, everything is up for grabs in the long-overdue revision of the esea, altering federal funding formulas is politically problematic because it shifts money from one state or district to another. That means there will always be some entity that loses money, even if most lawmakers and advocates recognize revising the formula is the fair thing to do. "Formula changes are difficult because senators are elected to represent a particular state, and unless there is new money on the table, formula changes tend to be zero-sum games," said Catherine Brown, the vice president for education policy at the Washington-based Center for American Progress. She was previously an education policy aide to former Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the longtime chairman and ranking member of the House education committee. "Money that goes to one state is taken from another," Ms. Brown conNew Research Emerges on LGBT Parents A third of children being raised by By Karla Scoon Reid As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs whether to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, recent research estimates that 122,000 samesex couples in the U.S. were raising almost 210,000 children under age 18 as of 2013. The analysis released in March by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at the uCLa School of Law provides a statistical portrait that school district administrators can use to provide support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents, students, and their families. But that picture-based on the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey and the National Health Interview Survey that same year-is incomplete in some places due to the limited nature of some data and the fact that most school districts do not collect it. Shifting Picture The actual numbers also are likely to have changed significantly since the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, leading additional states to legalize same-sex marriage. Currently, same-sex marriage is legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia and, according to data by the Gallup Organization released last month and based on surveys earlier this year, there are almost 1 million same-sex couples in America-roughly 40 percent of them married. The children of same-sex couples-about 145,000 school-age children in all, according to the Williams Institute- remain a tiny fraction of the nation's overall public-school same-sex couples were in families in which those parents were married. That proportion was even higher- just over half-in the District of Columbia and states that allowed same-sex marriage in 2013. FAMILY SNAPSHOTS The U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey was the first to collect detailed demographic data on both married and unmarried same-sex couples nationally, including information on same-sex couples raising children. The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law analyzed those data, along with Female same-sex couples accounted for more than threequarters of such couples raising children. information from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey. The institute estimates that, as of 2013: Same-sex couples were almost three times as likely as differentsex couples to be raising adopted or foster children. SOURCE: The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law enrollment of some 50 million elementary and secondary students. But the presence of married same-sex parents is already evident in the nation's schools, said Gary J. Gates, the report's author and the research director at the Williams Institute, in a recent interview. "These schools were already serving these families." And if same-sex marriage becomes legal nationally, Mr. Gates said those same-sex parents who had either "stayed under the radar" or appeared to be a single-parent family at 22 | EDUCATION WEEK | May 6, 2015 | their children's school because they were unmarried will likely become a bit more visible. According to the Williams Institute study, most same-sex couples-both married and unmarried-are female and younger than different-sex couples. However, married, same-sex couples earn more than married different-sex couples and are less likely to be raising children in poverty-9 percent, the lowest rate of any couple. Mr. Gates said one the biggest challenges in analyzing demographic data about same-sex parents is the "lack of detail about the legal and social relationships between couples and their children." For example, he said, populationbased data identifying joint parent adoption, custody, or guardianship are not available. Defining these parental relationships is of particular importance since same-sex parents are almost three times as likely as different-sex couples to be raising foster or adopted children-4 percent compared to 1.4 percent. The institute estimates that nearly 27,000 same-sex couples PAGE 25 > Racial or ethnic minorities accounted for more than a third of same-sex couples raising children. tinued. "And even though, on a theoretical level, people understand that resources need to be distributed fairly, there is a tremendous need for more money for education in every state, and so you don't see them acquiescing to have their education funding cut." The federal government currently spends about $14.5 billion on Title I and $2.3 billion on Title II, the latter of which goes toward teacher training. Dodging the Fight So how do lawmakers fix outdated formulas that don't take into account, for example, pockets of intense poverty or shifts in populations over time? It turns out that it rarely happens, and when it does, it's not in a significant way. Take, for instance, the recent Senate education committee markup of the bipartisan esea bill that Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., the chairman and ranking member, respectively, hammered out over the course of two months. During a three-day executive session in mid-April, Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Robert Casey, D-Pa., offered dueling amendments involving Title II teacher aid. Sen. Burr's was an attempt to change the formula, and Sen. Casey's was an effort to preserve funding for his state that would be lost as a result of Mr. Burr's proposed formula tweak, as well as a decision by Sens. Alexander and Murray to eliminate a provision in their compromised bill that safeguards states from such changes. Sen. Burr's amendment, which was adopted by the committee via voice vote, changed the formula so that 80 percent of the aid would be based on poverty and 20 percent on population. The current formula is based 65 percent on poverty and 35 percent on population. Sens. Alexander and Murray had worked hard to maintain the bipartisan nature of the proposed esea rewrite. Fearing Sen. Burr's amendment combined with the elimination of language that protects states from a loss of formula funds might rock the boat, they asked him to provide members of the committee with a spreadsheet showing how much each of their home states stood to gain or lose because of the changes. In this case, 12 of the 22 committee members, including the chairman and ranking member, would see their federal funding for Title II increase. Typically, when a funding formula is changed, a "hold harmless" provision is added to ensure that no state PAGE 23 > Nearly 210,000 children under the age of 18 -almost 145,000 of them school-age -lived in some 122,000 households with same-sex parents. Those in same-sex couples raising children were about three years younger on average-38.6 years old- than individuals in differentsex couples raising children. Nearly a quarter of children being raised by samesex couples were living in poverty. However, fewer than one in 10 of the children in married same-sex households were living in poverty.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 6, 2015

Education Week - May 6, 2015
Some Balk as Testing Rolls Ahead
Nevada Exams Hit Tech Trouble
Science Standards Pop Up in Districts
Undocumented Students Strive to Adapt
State Takeover Gives Mass. District a Fresh Start
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Chicago Schools Probe Prompts AASA to End Alliance With Firm
Researchers Target Ways to Design Better Mathematics Text Materials
GED Revisions Spur Bumpy Year for Equivalency Exams
After Baltimore Unrest, Students and Educators Seek Understanding
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: New Research Probes Frontiers of Tech Learning
Blogs of the Week
Efforts to Change Federal Aid Formulas Prove Tricky
New Research Emerges On LGBT Parents
Advocates for Special Ed., Gifted Weigh Details in ESEA Rewrite Bill
Blogs of the Week
Marriage Issue Gets Full Airing at High Court
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace

Education Week - May 6, 2015