The American Federation of Teachers submitted comments from President Randi Weingarten, accompanied by signatures from more than 5,100 individual AFT members, to the Department of Education regarding the proposed “supplement-not-supplant” regulations guiding state implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
In a letter to Education Secretary John King that accompanied the AFT’s comments on the proposed regulations, Weingarten said, “There is no doubt that getting additional resources into disadvantaged schools—what we call “leveling up”—will help the students we work with every day. That is why, like the Obama administration, we believe we have a moral obligation to equitably fund our nation’s public schools.”
The signatures from AFT members nationwide, collected via online petition, reflect the real concerns of teachers, paraprofessionals and other school staff about the potential impact of the supplement-not-supplant regulations as originally written.
“Unfortunately, as those who work in schools—as AFT members do—can attest, there is no quick and easy accounting mechanism that can provide a real solution to funding inequities,” Weingarten continued in her letter to King. “Robbing Peter to pay Paul will not work. The only real way to achieve funding equity without taking money away from schools that are meeting their students’ needs is for states and districts to level up funding at under-resourced schools so that their funding levels match or exceed funding at well-resourced schools.”
In addition, the AFT’s letter proposed that the Department of Education fix the draft supplement-not-supplant rules by requiring “leveling up” of state and/or local funds; giving districts more time to design plans for achieving equity, inserting language requiring districts to level up spending rather than destabilizing schools by shifting resources; and by ensuring that the necessary resources, including staff, are allocated to ensure stability for students and workers.
Weingarten, echoed by AFT members nationwide, implored the Department of Education to use its authority to require districts to level up spending rather than just insisting on equitable distribution of funds. “Otherwise,” she warned, “these regulations are an unfunded mandate from Washington.”