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When the “Great Equalizer” is Anything But: Amending Title I to Secure Educational Equity For Low-Income Students


Poverty has long been known to negatively impact student educational outcomes, notably leading to lower math and literacy scores, graduation rates, and cognitive and physical development. While tackling educational deficiencies has primarily fallen under the purview of the states, the federal government could play an important role in addressing the nationwide educational disparities linked to poverty status. Title I, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act exists to address these inequalities, though it is largely ineffective as written. However, with several amendments, Congress could craft a Title I that more adequately supports low-income students and brings greater equity to the American public school system.

This Note proposes that to see this type of change, Congress needs to significantly increase its Title I funding. Further, Congress should amend Title I to ensure that the funds provided to schools are used to support low-income students in ways that are specific and targeted to each student’s unique needs. For this amendment to have teeth, it must include the creation of a private cause of action that allows parents to seek its enforcement. Finally, Congress should use Title I funding to provide direct subsidies to parents or guardians of eligible low-income K-12 students. While the education gap will likely never be completely closed, these measures would go a long way toward helping Title I live up to its promise to make American education more equitable for low-income students.