March 9, 2009

Set-aside questions answered?

Per David Hoff's question Friday on whether the "spend it quickly" provision of ARRA will conflict with the mandate to set aside 20% of Title I funds in schools or districts not meeting AYP, the initial guidance on the relevant USDOE webpage doesn't appear to be that clear. But a few things come to mind:

  • In terms of a macroeconomic effect, 20% of the Title I budget of affected schools or districts may or may not be significant, but it will surely be swamped by the larger decisions taken in the passage of ARRA and also in states that decide either to take the money or not. From what I understand, one reason why the Japanese central government's claims to stimulate the economy in the 1990s was always exaggerated was because local governments didn't always follow through. At some point, the question in Washington will be, "Okay, what do we do if states refuse to take the money we're offering?" That's one of my fears in Florida.
  • If 20% is set aside but used at some point within 15 months, there's going to be a delay effect but I'm not sure how awful that would be. That sounds like a technical question that few of us in education are competent to answer.

I'm not an economist, but I suspect the gist of this is that the educational consequences of the set-aside will be a bit more important than the macroeconomic ones. I have concerns about the set-aside provisions, but unless an economist points out differently (calling Dr. Rouse!), the issues should be decided based on education policy.

Update: Sheesh, I forgot some critical words above... Title I budget of. I hope adding them makes my meaning clear... or at least a little less like mud.

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Tags: budget, No Child Left Behind, stimulus
Posted in Education policy on March 9, 2009 10:09 AM |