Yesterday, the Learning First Alliance, which sponsors this site, released the following statement on competitive grant programs:
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has been a critical instrument in the federal government’s efforts to promote equity in education. The Learning First Alliance (LFA) believes equity must remain a non-negotiable goal of ESEA reauthorization. We applaud the Obama Administration’s proposal to increase federal resources for public schools in 2011. But we urge Congress to avoid provisions that could undermine, rather than support, equity.Those who propose the competitive grants have good intentions, but too much focus on such grants might make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Small, rural districts can't generally afford grant writers. Foundations might be able to help in some cases, but they might also put themselves in the awkward position of essentially choosing the winners and losers.
For this reason, ESEA should not divert substantial federal resources into competitive grant programs. This strategy threatens to penalize low-income children in school districts that lack the capacity to prepare effective grant proposals. It risks deepening the disparities between rich and poor districts, effectively denying resources to the students who need them most.
We must be very careful never to visit the sins (or disadvantages) of the fathers upon the children. That's a very real danger if we tip the balance too far in favor of competitive grants. When the adults don't win grants, it's the children who lose out.
Learning First Alliance Says No To ESEA
From Public School Insights: