Ensure Great Public Schools for Every Child
- During the week of March 16, 2015, the House and Senate Committees on Budget will begin work marking up their Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolutions. Floor votes are expected the week of March 23, 2015.
- The last three years of drastic austerity measures imposed by budget caps and sequestration have left education funding levels at pre-2008 levels. Without action from lawmakers, FY16 funding levels will return to sequester levels that were given partial, temporary relief from the Murray-Ryan Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. Congress must act quickly to stop sequestration from taking effect in the new fiscal year.
Replace Sequester Cuts
- The FY16 budget agreement should fully replace sequester level funding and include a Labor-HHS-Education allocation that prioritizes critical formula grant programs. Replacing sequester level funding should continue to be applied equally to non-defense (education, health, workforce) and defense programs.
- As a result of sequestration and other austerity measures enacted since 2011, Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) funding in FY 2014 was about 15 percent below 2010 levels, adjusted for inflation. Without action to stop sequestration, in FY 2016 funding will decline to 3.1 percent of GDP — equal to the lowest level in at least 50 years.
- Continuing sequester level funding is the wrong approach for moving our nation forward. The impact of sequester level cuts have been dramatic: loss of Head Start seats, larger class sizes resulting in less one-on-one attention for students, loss of extracurricular programs, and the students with the greatest need have felt the cuts the most.
- At a time of rising childhood poverty, our inequitable systems of school finance at the state and local levels, combined with federal cuts, have exacerbated local schools’ ability to fill opportunity gaps for students most in need. More than 50% the nation’s public school students are now eligible for free- and reduced-priced meals. 14.7 million children in the United States — 20% of all children — live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level - $23,850 a year for a family of four.
- Formula grant programs like Title I and IDEA are essential to addressing inequities and providing targeted help to students in poverty, children with disabilities, and those most in need of extra assistance. Increasing funding for these programs, as well as targeted investments like Early Childhood Education, English Language Learners (ELL), and efforts to make college more affordable are essential to closing opportunity gaps facing students. Formula grant programs also provide funding certainty to states and local school districts rather than competitive grants that typically create winners and losers, leaving too many students behind.
- All of our students, regardless of their zip code, deserve the tools, resources and time to learn. This means resourcing all schools so kids have one-on-one instruction, inviting classrooms, and a well-rounded curriculum.
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