SEATTLE, September 30, 2009 – As students and their tax paying parents settle into the return to school, most are in the dark about the unprecedented $100 billion in education funds made available through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This historic investment, focused on turning around the nation’s 5,000 worst performing schools, is equal to nearly 16 percent of the nation’s annual expenditures on public K-12 education.
$10 billion of the new funding has been slated for Title I programs to provide additional assistance to schools with a high concentration of families that live in poverty. By looking at the U.S. Department of Education’s website for Title I funding, parents can find nearly 14,000 data points. Making sense of the data, however, requires file downloads and proprietary desktop software. For many economically-disadvantaged constituents – the same constituents who may benefit the most from this information – sorting, filtering, and sharing this data may be out of reach. The average citizen can find information about their next cell phone more easily than they can about their child’s school.
To help average citizens clarify these figures, Socrata transformed the U.S. Department of Education’s data in a Social Data Player, making the data easier to access. Now parents can filter, sort, and share the data without proprietary software. Socrata has also combined data from The National Center for Education Statistics to add much needed perspective of school poverty. The data looks at how many students qualify for free and reduced lunch in each district — a leading indicator for poverty levels at schools in the United States.
By combining the datasets, Socrata provides a resource that allows for a clearer view of where Recovery Act education funds are actually being distributed. A quick scan shows that not one of the schools with the top ten highest percentages of free and reduced lunch is in the list of the top ten schools for highest stimulus funding per child.
Socrata, Inc. – Making Data Social™ – based in Seattle, Washington, is the world leader in social data discovery, a category of Web solutions that enable national, state, and local governments, to achieve new levels of transparency and citizen participation while significantly lowering the costs of serving online data. Socrata is a private company with venture financing from Frazier Technology Ventures and Morgenthaler Ventures. To experience Socrata social data discovery, visit www.socrata.com.
Socrata, Making Data Social, and Social Data Player are trademarks of Socrata, Inc. All other product and company names may be trademarks of their respective companies.