I think I set off a social media rumble yesterday with a Tweet about new school legislation from state Sen. Alan Clark and so I probably should provide some further clarification, though the bill remains a bad idea that would punish schools that need the most help.
I Tweeted that Clark had proposed to “cut poverty funding to schools with low test scores, typically the poorest schools.” That’s accurate. I also posted a link to the bill. Many readers read the bill and were horrified by the title, which says in part that it is: “to reduce the amount of national school lunch state categorical funding … if the overall reading readiness is below a certain percentage.”
I knew what this meant. Many did not. School lunch categorical funding is shorthand for a special financial payment that is distributed for instructional help and other purposes to schools with high percentages of poor students as determined by the number eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Thus, though it is national school lunch state categorical funding, it is NOT “lunch money.”
It’s still flawed. As an education specialist put it: “It’s completely ass backwards because it cuts funds to the schools that need them most, but it would not cause kids to starve.”
I knew that all along. But to the extent I contributed to the confusion, sorry.
By the way: There ARE problems related to this money. Many schools aren’t using it as it was intended. There’s been talk, in fact, of a lawsuit challenging the state’s allowance of dubious uses of this money or simply as a general budget supplement. Fixing that would be a better idea than taking it away from schools in dire straits.
Here’s a backgrounder on the subject by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.
KARK/Fox plans to delve into the subject tonight, so check it out.