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State Education Commissioner Calls ‘Supplement not Supplant’ Regulation an ‘Extreme Paperwork Burden’

State Education Commissioner Calls ‘Supplement not Supplant’ Regulation an ‘Extreme Paperwork Burden’

While the country’s new education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act, passed with bipartisan support, a regulation created by the Department of Education to enforce the legislation is stirring up significant controversy among state leaders.

The regulation, known as “supplement not supplant,” was designed to improve the academic achievement of disadvantaged students by ensuring that state officials use Title I funding in addition to local funding, not in replacement of.

”Supplement not supplant,” the Department says, is "intended to ensure that Federal funds provide the additional educational resources that students and teachers in high-poverty schools need to succeed.”

"Failure to ensure compliance with the supplement not supplant provisions in the law hurts students in Title I schools, who are among those most in need of additional support. This principle is fundamental to the law and to its legacy as a civil rights law.”

The DOE is targeting 10 percent of Local Education Agencies (LEAs) that oversee Title I schools that receive hundreds of thousands of dollars less than non-Title I schools because they are supplanting local and state funding.

Under the new regulations, LEAs must show their methodology for allocating state and local funds but need not adhere to a specific methodology recommended by the Department. 

The regulation is being called by opponents as an overreach of the U.S. Department of Education’s power and even a direct conflict with ESSA itself.

"This is nothing less than a brazen effort to deliberately ignore a law that passed the Senate 85 to 12, passed the House 359-64, and was signed by the president,” said chairman of the Senate education committee Lamar Alexander and one of ESSA’s main architects. 

Now, the Connecticut education commissioner is joining in on attacks against the regulation.

Connecticut, a small state that has been embattled by a series of large, high-profile lawsuits against its education system, is effectively split on how to handle the new soon-to-be finalized regulation.

"In an effort to equalize spending between Title I schools and non-Title I schools, district administration would have to override school-level decisions to ensure balance,” said Connecticut Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell in a public comment submitted to the Department of Education.

Adding to that, Wenztell called “supplement not supplant” an “extreme paperwork burden.”

Other Connecticut representatives aren’t convinced that the new challenges the regulation might bring to the state outweigh its benefits.

“A child from a poor neighborhood who attends a struggling, under-resourced school is disadvantaged for the rest of her or his life. This dispute isn’t about a funding formula, it’s about the kind of country we want to be,” said Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy to the CT Mirror.

This debate happening in Connecticut represents the debate that is occurring on a national scale, albeit in the background as the nation continues to discuss recent historic presidential election results.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

11/14/2016

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