Title portability presents some interesting paradoxes. As things currently are (or at least as I understand them), title 1 funds go towards a school that meets overall criteria. If if a school has X % or more of special needs students, English language learners, or reduced federal lunch students they get funding. This seems entirely reasonable, in that student demographic profiles with higher percentages will have higher costs.

On the other hand, if a school has X%-1 students, they do meet the profile and thus do not receive funding. This doesn’t seem quite right, especially in special needs situations where staff / student ratios approach 1:1. In other words, smaller schools who don’t have the benefits of economy of scale are left out in the cold. Granted, one could argue, and with a fair bit of evidence, that economy of scale doesn’t work when it comes to title 1 education. It seems to me that even though historically the economy of scale doesn’t work, we should find out why, rather than to assume its a physical law locked in stone.

However, should Title I go portable, accountability burdens would go insanity^3, thus the push to significantly neuter them. One of the worst case scenarios, is that states would simply cut their contribution relying on Title I to make up the difference along with some slight of hand to obfuscate the remaining accountability. Such would be good for state taxpayers of course, but not so good for the most vulnerable student. From a best case scenario, the combination of local, state, and title I funding with a ton fewer fed strings might open a door to some pretty awesome innovations which could really help the most vulnerable student.

Its not simple…