Fifty-five years ago, the U.S. Congress signed Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act into law. This promised that students and families living in poverty would receive additional investments to mitigate the impact of poverty on educational achievement.
Since then, Title I has never been fully funded. That lack of critical investment has had a disastrous impact on poor students, their families and the communities they call home. In many cases, these students are predominantly Black and Brown. Instead of receiving the necessary funds, these young people and their parents have been subjected to devastating school closures, excessive over policing and the loss of qualified Blackand brown educators.
Despite the spotty track record of disinvestment, we have a couple reasons to organize for the full funding of Title I:
- During his campaign, President Joe Biden repeatedly promised that if elected, he would work to triple Title I funding! This was a sign to educators, parents, students and the community that we would have a friend in the White House on matters of school funding and the fight for educational equity. It is especially important in this moment to act on that campaign promise.
- Additionally, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Susie Lee ( D-NV) introduced the Keep Our Promise to America’s Children and Teachers Act. This piece of legislation, also known as the Keep Our PACT Act, would place Congress on a well-needed and responsible path to meeting its obligation to fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- President Biden’s campaign promise and the introduction of the Keep Our PACT Act are two critical steps to ensuring full funding of Title I and making educational equity reality.
The third and most critical step to making sure that students, communities and educators have tools necessary to meet the challenges of our new world involves an unprecedented organizing effort on the local, state and federal level.
With this in mind, we invite groups from all across the movement for social justice to get involved and join our campaign to get Title I and IDEA fully funded this year! Our goal is to move millions of parents, students, educators and community members to take action. That means calling lawmakers, planning virtual rallies, meeting with members of Congress, writing letters, using social media and holding legislators accountable for their commitments to racial equity.
In truth, fully funding Title I, is, as they say, a no brainer. Over the last year, we have watched as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked unimaginable havoc across the globe, the brunt of which landed on the poor, the vulnerable, and Black and brown people.
Here, in America, the story was a familiar one: a disaster with seemingly no connection to race or income has had the greatest impact along those lines.
That’s why funding Title I and IDEA is critical to how we recover as a nation. It’s good for our students. It’s good for our educators. It’s good for parents and communities. It’s also essential for advancing the racial justice agenda!
Collectively, we represent millions of students, parents, educators, school-related personnel and community members. We know, better than most, what it means for the classrooms in our community to thrive with the necessary resources.
We also know that positive and progressive change does not occur because we wish for it or because promises were made. Rather, it happens because we work for it, we demand it and we bend the political arc toward action.