WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Lou Barletta joined his colleagues in the House to unveil and support the All Children are Equal (ACE) Act, which would bring more federal education funding to school districts in the 11th Congressional District, which includes Carbon, Columbia, Monroe, and parts of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.
The ACE Act reforms Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provides funds to local school districts to improve the education of disadvantaged students. Currently, because of two alternative weighting systems used, the formula actually diverts funding from higher-poverty school districts to lower-poverty school districts.
Right now, if two school districts have identical percentages of poverty but one is larger than the other, the larger district will still receive more funding. The ACE Act will phase out a number-weighting system that punishes smaller, poorer Local Education Areas (LEAs) and benefits larger LEAs that are not as poor. By reducing the number-weighing system, the poverty rate of an LEA and not its size becomes the driving factor in how Title I funds are distributed.
"Because of the current system, for example, even though it has a poverty rate of more than 17 percent, the Hazleton Area School District loses more than $100,000 a year in Title I funding every year, just because the district doesn't have the population of some of its urban or suburban counterparts. In total, Pennsylvania's 11th District loses more than $1.15 million per school year because of the flawed weighting system. These kids should have the same opportunities as everyone else, and I'm proud to support this bipartisan effort," said Barletta, a Republican.
"School districts are struggling with rising costs and shrinking tax revenue, and the ACE Act will correct a fundamental imbalance and help smaller and rural districts in the 11th District receive more federal dollars. Whether the school district is large and urban or small and rural, poverty is poverty. The ACE Act will level the playing field and direct more federal education dollars to help our poorest students, no matter where they live," he said.
The ACE Act was drafted by U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA-5), and has bipartisan support, with 10 original co-sponsors, including Barletta. It is supported by of a diverse range of advocacy groups, including the American Association of School Administrators, the Pennsylvania Association of Rural & Small Schools, the Parent Teachers Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Center for Rural Affairs, the National Alliance of Black School Educators, and the National Farmers Union.