How Losing Our Title 1 Status Could Affect NAHS

North+Atlanta%27s+building.+

Sara Beth Cimowsky

North Atlanta's building.

North Atlanta has always been a Title 1 school, but this year that changed. If you don’t already know, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known to us as Title 1, was established in 1965 to benefit the education of impecunious students by closing the achievement gap between affluent and poor students. This is the most far-reaching and (debatably) most successful federal legislation passed by congress in pursuit of education. Our Title 1 status isn’t anything to be ashamed of- we’re smack in the middle of a sprawling city- so of course growth is to be expected and the socioeconomic challenges that come with that are inevitable. The Title 1 funds better our staff and make our school a stronger and better place for our students to be.

The thing is, as of this year, we’re not a Title 1 school anymore.

So what does this mean?

Clearly, we won’t get federal funds anymore. This much is obvious.

Since the 80’s, Title 1’s goal has gradually shifted to helping ‘at-risk’ students and schools. To qualify as a Title 1 school at least 40% of the student body must be from low-income families (determined by the percentage of students in the free or reduced lunch programs). Funding is distributed for the next five fiscal years until it’s reauthorized. With the implementation of the No Child Left Behind act, schools must focus on yearly progression regarding test scores and more successful teaching methods to continue receiving funds. Title 1 funds commonly cover intervention programs, after-school tutoring, counseling, instructional coaches, and other academic programs to better the school environment.

The amazing, great, fantastic thing about no longer being a Title 1 school is that it means more families can afford to feed and take care of their children. Our student body is primarily made up of a middle-class populace. This might imply economic development in Atlanta.

Unfortunately it has been rumored that it’s possible that staff hired under Title 1 funds- instructional coaches, professional tutors and the like- could very well lose their jobs as we no longer have adequate funds to employ them. Will North Atlanta take a hit because of this? If these people are helping our students succeed academically then isn’t it borderline unlawful to have the government rip them from our hands? Or, if we’ve progressed academically as a school (per Title 1 funding requirements) are they now obsolete?

Adding on to the darker side of losing Title 1 funds, some teachers may be forced to leave North Atlanta due to financial complications regarding Title 1 grants. There’s this thing called the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, where if you (a teacher) teach at a Title 1 school for 10 years part of/all of your teacher loans are paid off by the government. Without our Title 1 loans North Atlanta is no longer able to participate in the program, and some teachers may leave in order to keep paying off their loans. It’s nothing personal of course, but sometimes one must do what is in their best interest. Unfortunately we may have to say goodbye to some of our favorite teachers in the coming years.

Overall our Title 1 loss is sure to change the landscape of our school, if only minorly. Our Title 1 loss was unheard of with most parents and students so it is my hope that exposing it will urge my peers and their families to become more conscious of what’s going on at North Atlanta. However I (and the administration) believe that North Atlanta will continue to prosper in future years, and our student populace will only continue to grow. As teacher Eleanor Brookins said, “Mr. Douglass is a great leader. He knows who to manage our school, and he assured us everything will be fine, and I believe him.”