Most of us have come to realize that here in California, government money does not find its way into Jewish day schools as it does in New York. There, children are often bused, provided lunch and textbooks, and have many specialized services and therapies, all at the expense of the government. Yet, there are services in Los Angeles that day schools can access from the local educational agency. These services are known by their different Federal Title names – Title I and Title II.
“Title I” is the federal program that provides funding to local school districts to improve the academic achievement of disadvantaged students. It is part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act first passed in 1965. That act is reauthorized by Congress from time to time, often given a new name. This act was most famously renamed the “No Child Left Behind Act,” under President George Bush. Most recently it was reauthorized as the “Every Student Succeeds Act.” Title I provides supplemental math and reading help to students with academic need. It also provides counseling services, professional development for teachers with Title I students in their classrooms, and parent education.
Title II, also part of the act discussed above, provides professional development for teachers in the form of university courses, workshops, and coaching or mentoring of teachers and administrators. Both Title I and Title II are only offered to the schools in the form of services. And in keeping with the separation between church and state, services can only benefit the students themselves, never the school.
Parents are more likely to be familiar with Title I than Title II because it affects them more directly. When a child is included in the program, the parent should get a letter informing them that their child is receiving Title I services. The letter invites them to a meeting at the school in order to meet the teacher and learn about the goals of the program. Some questions that need to be answered are: Why is your child receiving this service? How did he/she become eligible? How much and what type of service can the child get? Who are the teachers providing service and from whom do they receive direction?
While the funding that a school generates is determined in by the poverty level of the local public school where the family lives, receiving services does not. Income level is not a determining factor in whether a child may receive this service. As long as a student’s home school (the public school the student is eligible to attend) is a Title I school (the school fits into the poverty level bracket determined by the Federal Government), the child can receive the services.
A child also needs to be academically eligible. This is determined by how a child scores on yearly standardized testing (if they are over 3rd grade). If a child scores below the 50th percentile on one or more of the tests related to math or English language, and is identified by the teacher to need services based on low scores on classroom tests, the child is then placed in a “pool book” and further tested for eligibility to receive these services.
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is responsible for providing the Title I program for private schools. They either contract with an educational company to provide the teachers and services, or they will provide services themselves to any school that has generated enough money to allow LAUSD to hire a teacher for that school. The more students enrolled in a school, the more service they can receive (i.e. the number of hours the Title I teacher is in the school). Since all of the Jewish schools belong to a consortium of schools that pool their generated funds, all Jewish Schools in Los Angeles have a teacher on campus, anywhere from full-time to just a few hours per week.
LAUSD has a specific program that is taught to the children, in small groups, usually two-three times per week. According to regulatory guidance for Title I Services to Eligible Private School Children, the goal of Title I for the Jewish Schools is “To provide supplemental educational services so that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education.” Teachers are trained by LAUSD to assess, teach, monitor, and assess again to determine how the students are improving their basic skills. They also work with the classroom teachers to help determine individual student’s educational deficits that can also be addressed in the Title I classroom.
There are other services also offered through Title I. These include student counseling, staff development, and parent education. Counseling – the service that is most valuable to the schools – is only offered to those students eligible for Title I. The schools have requested, and LAUSD has happily complied, to provide social workers and therapists who are from within the Orthodox Jewish Community.
Any parent who feels that their child is struggling and in need of these services should contact their schools to determine if their child is eligible for these services. This school year has just begun, which means that Title I services are just starting as well.Any parent who feels that their child is struggling and in need of these services should contact their schools to determine if their child is eligible for these services. While L.A. might not have the plethora of government-sponsored services that New York does, at least parents can benefit from these specific services that are offered in the local Jewish Schools.