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NEA on Supplement not Supplant Regulations

Lily Eskelsen García: Ensuring that every student has a meaningful opportunity to learn is the goal


WASHINGTON - November 07, 2016 -

The Department of Education has proposed regulations to the Title I supplement, not supplant (SnS), fiscal requirement under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). SnS essentially deals with how federal funds are supposed to be used relative to local and state spending. The Department's proposed regulations require districts to look at the actual local and state dollars going to schools that get federal Title I money for disadvantaged students versus those that don't get Title I dollars.

The fiscal requirement that funds are to supplement and not take the place of state and local funds is intended to provide disadvantaged students with additional resources over and above what they receive through state and local funding for education.

The following can be attributed to National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García.

“To support all students, ESSA implementation should be done in a way that preserves the law's longstanding commitment to opportunity for every student, while ensuring that local efforts to better serve students most in need aren't undermined. We agree with the Department that federal dollars should be supplemental to state and local dollars; however, the proposed regulations on SnS within ESSA raise some concerns about the practical implications and unintended consequences that would result.

“The full story of equity we want told focuses on whether students have access to the resources and services they need regardless of ZIP code, rather than limiting the conversation to comparing how much money each school receives. Comparing expenditures among schools tells you little about the needs of the students in those schools. What matters is sufficient funding equitably distributed in order to provide each student with a meaningful opportunity to learn.

“Focusing on variations between schools, while relevant and important, misses the larger picture of persistent disparities in total resources between local public school districts that are highly segregated both socioeconomically and racially. And that is a state responsibility—to equitably and adequately fund its public schools. More equitable funding between districts will make possible more equitable funding within districts.

“We've seen the best public schools and what they offer to students: fully stocked libraries with librarians, advanced coursework, science labs, music and art classes, up-to-date textbooks. Why can't we have that for every student? The proposed regulations could lead to districts cutting entire programs like music, art and PE, in order to get the money to meet the compliance requirement. Districts may have to spread federal funds more thinly to more schools, or to cut Title I from some schools—solely to pass the test.

“Ensuring that every student has a meaningful opportunity to learn is a state’s first responsibility. For students to graduate college- and career-ready, a state must provide students with resources commensurate to their needs, such as access to high-quality preschool, a well-rounded curriculum, participation in advanced coursework, and a safe and healthy learning environment with modern materials, technology and facilities. Despite greater effort in many places, poorer communities are often unable to provide the same opportunity to students as those provided to students in wealthier communities.

“It matters how much money is available to our schools, but that's just the beginning of the conversation. What matters just as much is how that money is spent to support students. ESSA provides school districts the chance to work with parents and educators to use available resources in new ways so every student has a chance to succeed.

“Again, for ESSA to become the game changer Congress intended it to be, the Department of Education must live up to its end of the bargain. We must stand up, speak out and advocate for our students. And all of us must insist on keeping the focus where it belongs: on equity and opportunity for all students.”

For more information visit getessaright.org

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  (202) 822-7823, cfbusser@nea.org