On this episode of Education Talk Radio, host Larry Jacobs speaks with Charles Blaschke, the president of Education Turnkey Systems, about the changes and opportunities of Title I schools.
Education Turnkey Systems is a 40-year-old market research consulting firm that provides information and analysis about federal funding for K-12 purchases of technology and technology-related products for the classroom. Joining Charles on the show is Anne Brown, VP of Education and Business Development at Waterford Institute.
- The policies that affect Title I funding
- Managing Title I funds within a school district
- The increased flexibility for the use of Title I funds
- The impact of Title I funds in a school district
Listen to the podcast on blogtalkradio.com/edutalk and continue reading below for the full transcript. Learn more about Waterford UPSTART, our kindergarten readiness program
Education Talk Radio: “A Deep Look at Changes and Opportunities for Your School in Title I” Full Transcript
Larry Jacobs (Host, Education Talk Radio): And that little boop boop starts the show. Hi everybody, I’m Larry Jacobs, this is Pre-K-K12 education talk radio on Flag Day. Yes, it is June 14th. A lot of people forget that holiday. I believe it’s the official day when the Continental Congress approved the flag. That’s what makes it Flag Day, I’m not sure what year that was. But this is June 14th, 2018. So, enjoy the flag today, I’ve got mine waving outside, it’s a nice breezy day out there. So, it looks pretty darn good. OK. We have a wonderful show for you today we’re going to talk about Title I which is really important, and I like talking about Title I. We got the new magazine called Accessibility Compliance and Equity in education, and Title 1 helps those things. All right. And you can learn about our new magazine at ace-ed.org, subscriptions are free. It’s a digital publication, just go over and sign up and we’ll send it to you. But there’s an awful lot of information over there just on the Web site and then you just click through the magazine and it really looks great. Ace-ed.org that ACE stands for Accessibility Compliance and Equity in Education and also you can follow us on Twitter over @edutalkradio, Facebook you can friend us at the same place. All right. Today we’ve got Charles Blaschke who’s the founding president of Education Turnkey Systems, which is a 40-year-old market research consulting firm, which provides information and analyses about federal policies and funding for K12 purchases of technology and other related products and services. We’ll talk about Title I, he’s an expert I.D.E.A., school improvement grants, and other things and it’s a pleasure to have Charles here today. And on that note a big thank you to my friends over at Waterford Institute who helped me put together the show today. Obviously, that’s waterford.org. You go over there you’re going to learn everything you need to know about Pre-K-2 education. They are the best, Waterford.org, Waterford Institute, we’ve got Anne Brown as well. Let me start with ladies first. Anne are you there.
Anne Brown (VP of Education and Business Development, Waterford Institute): Hey I’m here Charles, great to talk to you.
LJ: Oh, it’s a pleasure to have you here. And, Anne, you’re V.P. of Education and Business Development over at Waterford. Just give everybody an overview of Waterford and also just how you would get behind how your company would work with someone like Charles who I’ll introduce in a couple of seconds, Anne you’re on. It’s your microphone.
AB: Yeah. OK great. Thank you. So, you know as you said Waterford is focused on Pre-K-2 literacy, math, and science. And then we recently just brought over Curriculet, which is which is literature-based instruction for 3rd grade to 12th grade. You know everything online, and everything research-based, 40 years of advocacy research to prove that what we’re doing makes a difference for kids. And what we’re most proud of is the ongoing impact that we have on children and helping them become great readers and we really feel like reading is the ultimate equity for kids, for anyone.
LJ: It really is. I did a lot of shows with you guys and I know I’ve done shows with educators in Mississippi and Utah and all over the country with you folks. And I’ll tell you, what you guys provide for the school districts that works so well that does bring about accessibility. OK. Like with UPSTART and equity in the end. OK. Because you know it just it makes it happen. So, Anne is the V.P. of Education and Business Development she’s, not that they get complaints, she has nothing to do with the complaint department that’s in Bangladesh. Right?
AB: Well you know actually; our complaint department is right outside of my office. So, there you go you know the phone overlay, but we don’t have any of those yet.
LJ: Does the phone ever ring? Those people are covered in like cobwebs really.
AB: No. Never. Exactly. You know, one guy in the corner drinking coffee.
LJ: Yeah, or whatever he’s got in that cup, we don’t know, he seems happy.
AB: But hey I want, I do want to thank you for allowing us to have Charles come on. Charles, you know I’ve been working with Charles for I don’t know 20 years probably. He is the leading expert…
LJ: Wow, so you met Charles when you were five years old? I can do math.
AB: I did. I did.
LJ: Yeah. Cool. Twenty and five.
AB: You know Charles was six I was five, it was great. Anyway, he has been just, you know the leading expert in his Title 1 funding, education funding, state-to-state funding. And he and I were actually on the phone, I don’t know a week or week and a half ago, and he started talking to me about you know some of the changes, some of the flexibility in Title 1 and I went, “You know Charles, I think everybody needs to hear this, would you come on the radio with us?” So, I’m really thrilled to have him on here with us.
LJ: And I thank you for bringing him so well on that note, I couldn’t do a better introduction. Hi Charles, it’s Larry.
Charles Blaschke (President, Education Turnkey Systems): Hey Larry.
LJ: How are you.
CB: Pretty good, pretty good.
LJ: Good, good. Where are you calling from?
CB: Arlington, Virginia.
LJ: Sounds good to me. Got good weather down there I hear today.
CB: Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s about time.
CB: And I also know you’ve got a championship hockey team somewhere in that area. So that’s good too.
CB: Yup, finally got a winner.
LJ: ‘Bout time. I’m old enough to remember the Washington Senators actually playing. Okay, so it’s about time Washington got a winner there. It’s terrific. Today’s Title I. Charles [do] you want to just tell everybody, if I didn’t do it well enough, of what Education Turnkey Systems does? Which is your company.
CB: Well, hey Anne how’re you doing?
CB: Actually, we got started a little bit about, well before Waterford got started, and were involved in the early years of the formulation of Title I and have continued to monitor developments in that area including the development of first policy [Manual owned Title 1]. More recently been working with a large number of clients and helping them understand some of the trials and tribulations and regulations related to Title I.
CB: And, Anne, as you mentioned there were some significant changes, perhaps the one that gets the most publicity is the supplement not supplant provision. Basically, this administration has decided not to try to come up with any regulations explaining within the law, but rather leave it up to the state to interpret what the law says. And basically, in a nutshell, it says that if you’re a Title I school, particularly a school-wide program, about 77 percent of them are, with 40 percent or more poverty, all you have to do to ensure that the amount of state and local funds going to all other schools are the same that are going into the Title I. Then you can spend Title I to supplement that.
CB: Now how do you measure that? Well it [indistinguishable] occasion. That’s pretty hard to do. They may be able to come up with some way of calculating that in the near future. But that’s one big flexibility. However, there were increasingly more and more flexibility to the old No Child Left Behind, under the Obama Administration. And as a result, even though the Obama folks have tried to kill all these regulations and policies, 90 percent of the flexibilities that were in place under No Child Left Behind, three years ago, are still available and applicable for states to that district and provide guidance to districts to use that flexibility. Things like being able to use Title I funds to train math teachers if the school is identified as failing. And even though the non-Title I teachers are not in Title I they could be using Title I funds to improve math, things like that.
LJ: Charles let me let me ask you something. Obviously, administrations changed the Bush administration created, George W., created No Child Left Behind. And I don’t think that was a perfect law, but they were very interested in education. OK. The Obama administration with Arne Duncan and everybody, they seem to be very interested in education and all that. And I’m not asking these questions from a political point of view. There was a lot of controversy when you know Mrs. DeVos became our Secretary of Education etc. The three administrations, as you look at them, OK, which ones were working best for education, would you say, and Title I. Because people get settled into a thing, you know they look at these things they get settled. But each administration is different. How would you go back and look at them?
CB: Well I would say that Bush 2, and totally different from Bush 1.
LJ: Oh yeah.
CB: Did ensure greater accountability. But there was a one, you know, one size fits all philosophy and they had some very controversial programs plagued with conflicts of interest like Reading First etc. Which at first was not a great fan of but you know four or five years later when you have one Reading First school in a district, and then 20 others adopt those views, something’s working. Now, Obama basically got more prescriptive in terms of what he can do, what types of prescriptions for failing schools, perhaps only prescribed in certain things. And the Bush… the Trump and DeVos administration had a great impact on education not for what it proposed to do, but what it’s supposing to sneak under the door, and basically dismantle a lot of the flexibilities that were previously around and regulations that met the intent, the original intent of Title I. There you have it.
LJ: Yeah, thank you for that. That’s great. That’s great insight. I got to tell you there’s more money coming. And you mentioned it, a thousand districts. Not today, but we are talking and preparing, you mentioned thousand districts will be receiving a significant increase. OK, where’s that money coming from, where’s it come from?
CB: Well, about 600 districts that are getting increases of $200,000 or more, which are significant in many large districts and they’re easily getting that money because of the $300,000,000 increase in the recent appropriations. There are another 400, and there’s some overlap, 400 districts, that are getting a large percentage between 20 and 200-300 percent increases due to mistakes in census data, changes in population, movement and you know in that part of that increase to 300 million. Many of these districts consider this a windfall, and rather than expanding the program, hiring teachers, etc., they are left insofar as a windfall. And they’re probably going to be spending some of that reserve they’ve been holding back on since January, this year, spending that by July 1st, and of course the expenditures for products and services that pixelate professional development using that would have been carryover money that has to be obligated by June 30th in 44 states.
LJ: Wow. It’s so it’s so complicated they need companies like yours, Education Turnkey Systems to make this all make sense. Charles, I want to ask you something I want to get down to the nitty-gritty on this. OK. Talk to me about, and the audience obviously by the way, Anne, do you have anything to ask or add? I don’t mean to leave you out before I forget.
AB: No, nope, let’s just keep let’s just keep going with Charles, he’s a wealth of knowledge.
LJ: He is I didn’t want you to feel left out.
AB: No, I don’t, thank you.
LJ: OK. Very good. All right. So Charles, I want to talk to you, I want you to talk about this and this is key because you’re not per se an educator. I want you to talk, OK, about the impact of Title I. And I want you to tell us and tell me, if school districts are really as knowledgeable about it as they should be because times keep changing, we just established that. OK. And you got to keep on top of everything let alone this too. Talk to me about the impact that Title I has, it’s important and how school districts work with it.
CB: Well first of all, Title I is rather all-pervasive in the sense that if Title I increases in the district. Because the criteria used for Title I increases are cut are part and parcel of other titles like Title II needs some training, Title III etc. You know, these programs are also going to increase. So, you know, as Title I funds go up, they’re going to go up proportionately in some of the other programs. So, it’s an anchor and it’s a good barometer in that sense. Now, let me also say that the increases that we’ve identified among the 5,000 districts those are preliminary and there have to be adjustments to make. When I said they came in under the door messing up, and like this adjustment. The new law creates a private school [indistinguishable] office in the in the State Department. OK. And ethically, one major role of that office is to make sure private schools and charter schools that serve Title I kids get their equitable share of Title I funds. School districts, well, normally like to see their money flowing out the door following a child to a charter school.
CB: This administration did change regulations in IDEA Special Ed, which basically says if you are a new charter school, you don’t have any enrollment, you’re an independent, and you’re considered a local education agency, and Title I kids will be coming into that school, you get a certain amount.
CB: But there is no basis for deciding how many kids are going from public school to the charter school. So the state will come up with a guess as to how many. And not only is that money flowing into that charter school based on the estimate, with this new office the State Department will [indistingushable]. They also get money for things like response to intervention approaches. So, the point being, this administration is taking what they can out of Title 1 and IDEA and making sure they go to support the priority target schools, choice, etc. that this administration has proposed that Congress’ dispose and said no we’re not going to go that. It’s not too popular among school districts, as you may guess.
LJ: It’s absolutely amazing. Charles do you talk to a lot of school districts?
LJ: Charles did you hear me?
CB: Yes. Yeah.
LJ: Do you talk to a lot of school districts.
CB: Yeah. Well certain states yes. Their association of Title I groups around.
AB: And Larry let me jump in on that
AB: You know I do talk to a lot of school districts as well and you know work with them directly and you know to answer kind of the original part of that question, “are school districts aware?” Absolutely. I mean, Title I funding is that is a key component in the schools. And generally, there is someone who is over all these federal programs and they really do have a very in-depth understanding of this law. I always I always think of them like tax accountants. You know, they have to stay really on top of what are all of these priorities and what are these laws and what is what’s the flexibility? And so, I would say the schools themselves are pretty informed.
LJ: And you feel good that you feel good that they are.
AB: I do yeah, I do.
AB: I think districts are very informed. I think sometimes it’s Title I is a little mysterious when you get down to the school level and you know what’s happening and what’s the law because it’s it is it is a complex law. And again, not to say that anyone is keeping information for someone, but the complexity of the law and the fact that it changes quickly and it changes after every administration, you know. I think that maybe principals don’t have the depth of knowledge that they certainly have someone sitting next to them at the district level that their whole, their whole existence is to understand the depth of this law and make the most of it for children.
LJ: Anne, I just want to I just want to go further than that. I’m going to ask this right. Do principals. How responsible are principals for spending the dollars? Once the dollars come in, I know it’s like a tax form, OK, Now the dollars are there, OK. What happens next within the school district? I don’t know whether that’s Charles or you, Anne. Pass that over to Charles if you want, but you know the people who run the buildings, OK, all of a sudden? Where does it all lay? Once it’s really there, down to the bones?
AB: I think it’s a district-to-district decision for that. I mean there are requirements in the law, and Charles you can correct me if I’m wrong, but you can serve school districts that have 35, or excuse me, you can serve school buildings that have 35 percent or more children that would qualify for Title 1. You have to serve any building that has 75 percent or more. And so, if those you know and then it’s kind of up to a school district to decide like what’s their cut point. You know, a school district might say our cut point is 50 percent, you know, or is right at that 35 and then and then how they’re going to distribute the funds, so that all kind of happens at the district level. And in some cases, districts will recommend, or you know, decide a way to spend Title I can impact children the most might be a certain way but many, and I’m going to say many, I’m not going to say most, but many districts put that into the school and it becomes a school choice so it’s just you know it really varies. The key is what could be done with those funds. And over my 20 years in education since I was five years old, no. Over that time, you know what I’ve seen as a trend and, maybe Charles you can comment on this, is a greater flexibility in the use of funds. I mean being able, I mean this supplement versus supplant piece that Charles is talking about, is that flexibility is huge because it used to be, if you if you were buying a solution for a school using Title I dollars, the school district or the school funds outside of Title I, couldn’t put a dollar into that. Or then all of a sudden, they had to they had to buy that same thing for everyone or you know or take out, as soon as a like another school that maybe wasn’t Title 1 bought that same thing, and then they had to say, “oh well, now it’s the districts responsibility,” so the districts had to do everything. And now with this new flexibility, being able to be able to say, “oh I’m going to I’m going to put an equal number of dollars for our Title I children as we do for our non-Title I children,” you know kind of opens that opportunity and I think I’m saying that correctly Charles, but that flexibility just makes a huge difference in how children get served.
LJ: Yeah that’ll do. Go ahead, Charles, please.
CB: Let me just throw one little monkey wrench in the monkey, or whatever the analogy is, yeah it might be. I mean like 1997 we worked with Chairman the Education Committee, [William F.] Goodling. to push for school-wide programs, which Anne mentioned, that they have great flexibility and co-mingling funds from other federal programs, mixing them together, and with some guidelines setting that money to serve all kids in that school. That was 1997. OK. The Texas Education Agency just approved and allowed districts to implement that, two years ago, so that’s almost 20 years. My point is that if this flexibility that is implied in the new law does not come out and say you can do this, rather than being silent on it, states are going to do what? Nothing. They are going to say, “You can’t do that.” And that’s my concern about this new law, that all the flexibilities that were provided way back when, make up what [indistinguishable] districts would like to do the comingling, and being held accountable, and so forth. But if the state doesn’t allow it, because you know the state auditor’s job would be made more difficult. Well, you know, it goes on and on and on. So, where it used to be [indistinguishable] about regulations were between the districts and the federal government. Today, it’s going to be between the districts and some of the state Departments of Education who are not allowing the flexibilities of local principals and Title I Directors know about.
LJ: You know, I want to ask you and I guess this might be a political question, but they don’t mean it to be that way. You say some states are, some states aren’t. OK. And bear with me as I ask this question, everybody, OK, the states that aren’t are they more conservative states than those that are? Just Massachusetts versus Alabama as an example.
AB: I don’t think that’s the determining factor, Larry. I think it has to do with the leadership of the state. And what, you know, what policies are in place and how quickly things can change and adjust. And some states are just more progressive towards that than other states, versus saying red state, blue state.
LJ: Yeah but I wonder I didn’t want to dance around some states you know without getting a feel for which states kind of we were talking about. And your answer made me very happy. OK, that we can’t mess like that. I’m serious. I’m serious because I don’t like this red/blue I was going to say black and white but red/blue. OK. That’s not a good way to look at the world. OK. You know I was thrilled with your answer I got to tell you that. All right, guys, this was terrific. Thank you so much and you know we can talk about this some more. I’ll talk to Cara because this is really important stuff. Really important stuff.
AB: Yeah, yeah. I think this is good information for people to share and Charles’s insight. Thank you so much, Charles, for bringing that to us.
LJ: Charles great. I mean really, you know your stuff, this is fantastic. Thank you.
CB: All right.
LJ: OK. Thanks guys Anne you’re wonderful as always. Charles was a pleasure to have you here my friend. Thank you so much both of you.
LJ: Bye bye.
CB: Alright enjoy.
LJ: Thank you I enjoyed the show. Bye bye bye. Ok Anne Brown, who’s been on, a V.P. of Education and Business Development at Waterford Institute and that was Charles Blaschke the expert founder and president of Education Turnkey Systems. All right we’re going to archive the show education-talkradio.org tweet it out @edutalkradio. Check out ace-ed.org. You’ll be impressed. Sign up for free subscription. I’m Larry Jacobs. Thank you, Waterford. This is education talk radio pre K12 edition. Thanks for listening.