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Michigan lawmakers, educators take aim at proposed federal school funding ‘mandate’

Michigan lawmakers and state education officials are pushing back on a federal proposal to change to how millions of dollars for low-income students is distributed, saying the switch would unrealistically require school districts to equally fund all their schools.

A proposed federal regulation would require school districts to demonstrate that they spend roughly the same or more – in state and local dollars – on low-income schools that receive Title I funding versus those that don’t, Whiston said. The regulation is part of the new federal education law, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.

The idea behind the regulation is that Title I funding – earmarked for schools that serve a high percentage of low-income students – should “supplement” and not “supplant” local and state funding.

Critics have called the regulation “federal overreach,” while proponents say the measure is needed to ensure that low-income schools receive adequate funding and that Title I funds are used properly. The proposed regulation is not yet finalized.