Every School Dollar Counts

A New Paper by Columbia Law School Scholars Defends the U.S. Education Department's 'Supplement, Not Supplant' Proposal
New York, Aug 1, 2016—A recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report is “clearly wrong” in its claim that proposed spending regulations by the U.S. Department of Education overstep the language of the Every Student Succeeds Act, according to a new paper by Columbia Law School Professor James S. Liebman and LL.M. graduate Michael Mbikiwa ’16, who spent the summer working at Columbia’s Center for Public Research and Leadership (CPRL).
Liebman & Mbikiwa’s defense of the Education Department regulation attracted the attention of Politico on July 26, because of the important debate surrounding the meaning of a provision of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which requires that federal Title I funds for low-income K-12 students “be used so as to supplement” and “in no case to supplant” other federal, state, and local funding.
After the Act was signed into law in December 2015, the Education Department proposed a regulation to enforce this provision, which would discourage a common practice of school districts to deploy their most senior, highest paid teachers to middle class schools and leave their low-income Title I schools with more junior, lower paid educators. In May, the CRS questioned whether the proposed regulations are consistent with the legislation they enforce.

“Partisans may well object to the proposed regulation on policy grounds because of the tough choice to which it puts school districts,” write Mbikiwa and Liebman, the Simon H. Rifkind Professor of Law, and former head of the New York City Schools’ Division of Accountability and Achievement Resources. 

“But from a legal perspective, that choice is exactly the one to which the law in existence for decades and recently reaffirmed by Congress puts school districts. The Department’s proposed regulation is entirely appropriate—indeed imperative—to ensure high-poverty schools the funds to which they are legally entitled.”
Liebman and Mbikiwa’s paper, “Every Dollar Counts: In Defense of the Education Department's 'Supplement Not Supplant' Proposal,” was published July 19 by Columbia Law School’s Public Law & Legal Theory Research Paper Series and is forthcoming in the Columbia Law Review.
CPRL is a joint creation of Columbia Law and Business Schools and Teachers College that is housed at the Law School. In the six short years since Liebman founded it, CPRL has grown into a respected partnership of top professional schools nationwide, which prepares talented graduate students for leadership positions in public education organizations committed to improving opportunities for all children.