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Letter to the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee in Advance of the Upcoming Mark-up of the FY10 Appropriations Bill

July 22, 2009

Dear Senator:


In advance of the upcoming subcommittee mark-up of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, we would like to offer our views on funding for critical education programs.  

Investments in education are critical not only to individual students, but to our nation as a whole.  The economic benefits of education investments are clear.  Investing in programs that help students succeed in school and prepare for the workforce results in higher levels of earnings for individuals and higher tax revenues for federal, state, and local governments.  Individuals with higher levels of education are more likely to contribute positively to the economy and less likely to participate in social support programs down the road.  Studies show that the economic benefits of education investments will more than recoup the cost of those investments. 

We thank Congress for providing the bold, historic increases for long underfunded education programs as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The funding targeted to proven programs such as Title I and IDEA special education has put them closer than ever to full funding, helping schools provide more students with the resources and services necessary for academic success.  The FY10 appropriations bill, however, will be critical in preventing a future devastating drop-off in funding for Title I and IDEA.  While the so-called “cliff effect” for Title I and IDEA will not occur until FY 2011, avoiding the dangerous consequences of this drop-off in funding will require taking significant steps to increase funding for these programs beginning in FY 2010.

We request that the subcommittee provide the following 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.  We particularly urge the subcommittee to reject the $1.5 billion cut to Title I proposed by the Administration.
  • 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.  This would serve as a downpayment toward doubling funding to 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.  This would 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. 

Sincerely,

Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy