Congressional Leaders Urge Dept. of Education to Enforce ‘Supplement not Supplant’

The Congressional Asian Pacific American, Black, and Hispanic Caucuses demanded that the US Department of Education use its regulatory authority to guide and enforce the use of federal funds by local education agencies to help underfunded and underserved communities of color Wednesday. The “Supplement Not Supplant” provision in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), seeks to make sure that all students receive equitable educational opportunities. The congressmembers want rules in place that would require states and districts to distribute local funds evenly, regardless of federal funding.

An excerpt of the letter sent to Secretary King.

"As the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am proud to join the Chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus in strong support of the 'Supplement Not Supplant' policy,” Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) told NBC News. “It is time to stand up for students of color, and honor the civil rights legacy of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 'Supplement Not Supplant' will go a long way towards educational equity by ensuring that federal dollars are used to combat educational disparities."

In a letter addressed to Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. and signed by the chairpersons of the three caucuses Wednesday night, legislators acknowledged the impact that poverty coupled with under-resourced schools can have on students’ academic achievement, attainment, and life outcomes.

“Currently, we know that there are States and districts that are providing more State and local dollars to schools that are not receiving Title I funds than to those schools that are receiving Title I funds,” write legislators in the letter. “Doing nothing to right this wrong is simply unacceptable. The very purpose to Title I is ‘to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.’ It is neither fair nor equitable to provide fewer dollars to lower-income students.”

RELATED: New Data Disaggregation Initiative Announced by Dept. of Education

Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of the “War on Poverty,” and is considered a landmark civil rights achievement whose purpose is to protect the civil rights of and promote educational opportunity for all students, particularly the country’s most vulnerable students, according to legislators.

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