By Sureena Lakhanpal and Gabi Rossetti
Here at Mira Loma, we emphasize the importance of having a diverse group of students. Mira Loma welcomes students of all kinds to get a student-focused and enriching education, including a high percentage of lower-income families. In fact, recent statistics reveal that about 40% of our students come from lower-income families.
With that percentage, Mira Loma should hypothetically be accepted as a Title 1 school. Title 1 is the largest federally funded education program in the country, aiming to improve graduation rates for all students by supplying extra funds to the schools that need them.
Title 1 was one of five titles in the legislation, which was introduced in Congress on January 12, 1965, and was passed on April 9, 1965. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the legislation on April 12, 1965, and we’ve had the program ever since. This particular program provides funds to school districts to assist schools with the highest poverty concentrations. The goal was for the funds to be used to help break the cycle of lower-income families not getting enough opportunities and proper education throughout the country.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, schools must have a lower-income population percentage of 40% and above to receive these funds. Mira Loma meets this requirement, yet under the California Department of Education (the organization that oversees Title 1 initiatives in our state) it is not a Title 1 school.
So the question is why not? Why doesn’t Mira Loma receive these extra funds? Funds that we can use for a number of goals and school-wide projects.
An interview with teacher Mr. Stinson sheds light on this question. “It’s not so much that Mira Loma needs to be a Title 1 school, it’s that it does not want to be one.” Mr. Stinson has mentioned that it is not only poverty that plays a role in receiving government funds; it is also test scores. Mira Loma would have to have low academic test scores in order to even propose receiving such aid. If this were the case, the government would send funds toward areas of the school that would be beneficial in helping raise the test scores of individual students.
However, the idea of Mira Loma “not wanting to be [a Title 1 school],” in addition to not needing the funds, comes from the fact that the culture of the school would seemingly evaporate. With funds comes government involvement in all aspects of the school. Mr. Stinson added that because the government is only occupied with the goal of raising test scores, money would only be sent in for this reason. This would mean any clubs on campus, any teams that the government does not deem as helpful in raising test scores would lose all funding. In addition, this would include the loss of field trips; if any were to occur, the school would have to send a specific request outlining why it will be helpful in raising test scores on campus. Not only that, but the school would have to only employ teachers that are Title 1 certified, which may not include all Mira Loma teachers currently on campus.
Lastly, the other point brought up by Mr. Stinson is that receiving funds would not necessarily be helpful in raising test scores. Schools in Chicago receive nearly twice the funding San Juan Unified schools receive, but this has not automatically raised the scoring of schools in that city.
Essentially, Mira Loma is not in need of the Title 1 funding, and becoming a Title 1 school would give a not-so-guaranteed possibility of raising test scores at the cost of individuality.