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Letter to the Full House Appropriations Committee on the Mark-Up of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill

July 15, 2009

Dear Representative:

In advance of this week’s full committee mark-up of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, we would like to offer our views on funding for critical education programs. 

NEA thanks the Appropriations Committee for your longstanding commitment to public education.  We particularly appreciate the hard work of the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee in crafting a bill that reflects the crucial need for increased investments in education.  The bill reported by the subcommittee recognizes that investments in education are critical not only to individual students, but to our nation as a whole.  Investing in programs that help students succeed in school and prepare for the workforce, such as in the subcommittee bill, will result in higher levels of earnings for individuals and higher tax revenues for federal, state, and local governments. 

We commend the subcommittee for:

  • Restoring the $1.5 billion cut to Title I proposed by the Administration
  • Increasing funding for after school grants
  • Increasing funding for English Language Acquisition grants, and
  • Increasing funding for Pell Grants.

These funds will make a real difference in ensuring students the services they need to succeed, especially disadvantaged students and those with ELL needs. 

We look forward to working with Chairman Obey and the full committee as the bill moves forward.  To that end, we would like to remind the committee of NEA’s overall requests for education programs:

  • IDEA Special Education – an increase of $2.9 billion, from $11.51 billion in FY 2009 to $14.45 billion in FY 2010 (excluding funds provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) to reach a federal share of 29 percent of the excess costs of educating children with disabilities.  This investment is critical to avoid a dramatic drop in funding in FY 2011 after the loss of ARRA funds, and to keep the program on track toward full funding.
  • Title I – an increase of $2.5 billion, from $14.49 billion in FY 2009 to $16.99 billion in FY 2010 (excluding funding provided under ARRA).  Like the requested IDEA investment, this increase is important to avoid the funding cliff in FY 2011 and ensure that disadvantaged students can receive all the services necessary to succeed. 
  • Improving Teacher Quality State Grants – an increase of $230 million, from $2.95 billion to $ 3.18 billion.  This increase would bring funding to the most recent authorized level, provided under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2002.  Teacher quality grants can be used for a variety of purposes, including reducing class size – a critical goal as budget cuts have led to increases in class size in many states. 
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers (Afterschool) – an increase of $220 million, from $1.13 billion to $1.35 billion.  We recognize and applaud the subcommittee’s increase for after school grants, but urge the above amount as a downpayment toward doubling funding.  This will help serve one million more children, as outlined in the President’s education plan. 
  • English Language Acquisition State Grants – an increase of $240 million, from $730 million to $970 million.  We recognize and applaud the subcommittee’s increase to English Language Acquisition grants, but urge the above amount to bring the program to the most recent authorized level (provided under ESEA in 2002), adjusted for inflation and enrollment growth. 
  • Career and Technical Education State Grants – an increase of $280 million, from $1.16 billion to $1.44 billion.  This would restore funding to the FY 2004 level, adjusted for inflation and enrollment growth.
  • Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) – restore funding to the FY 09 level, rejecting the President’s proposed cut.  Federal investment and leadership is necessary to modernize the classroom and instruction, and to bring innovation to our education system.  EETT was funded in FY02-04 at nearly $700 million annually, but was cut back to $269 million in each of the last few years.  Congress and the new Administration signaled strong support for the role of technology in education by including $650 million in the ARRA – funding that will disappear in FY 2011.  However, the President has proposed only $100 million for FY 2010, excluding the ARRA funds. 
  • Redirect the proposed increase for the Teacher Incentive Fund to the priorities outlined above.  The Teacher Incentive Fund is unnecessary, duplicative, and serves merely to divert scarce resources away from proven, underfunded programs, including many of the formula grant programs listed above. 

We thank you for your consideration of our views on these important issues and for your continued support of public education.


Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy