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Letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee in Advance of the Upcoming Mark-up of the FY2010 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill

July 29, 2009

Dear Senator:


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.  We thank the Appropriations Committee for your longstanding commitment to public education.  We appreciate the hard work of the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee in crafting a bill that reflects the need for increased investments in education. 

We urge the full committee to:

  • Build on the subcommittee’s proposal to help ensure great public schools for every child, by providing increased resources as outlined below;
  • Reject any amendment that would reduce proposed funding for critical education programs;
  • Reject any amendment that would increase funding for the unnecessary and duplicative Teacher Incentive Fund, particularly as many other critical programs are level-funded or cut; and
  • Reject any amendment that would prohibit creation of a public plan option in health care reform legislation.

We commend the subcommittee for:

  • Providing $700 million for school modernization projects.  Far too many students attend classes in outdated, overcrowded, and unsafe facilities.  We applaud Chairman Harkin’s longstanding commitment to finding the resources to ensure every student a safe, modern learning environment.
  • Partially restoring the Administration’s proposed cut to Title I funding.  Title I funding is essential to ensuring that disadvantaged students receive the services they need to succeed.  We urge the full Committee to restore the rest of the funding cut by the Administration.
  • Increasing funding for critical programs such as Head Start and English Language Learner grants.

We do have concerns about language in the subcommittee bill that could allow charter school management companies, and potentially “for-profit” entities, to circumvent state education agencies to receive all available funding for charter schools.  We hope this language can be clarified in full committee. 

We look forward to working with the full committee on all of these issues 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. 

Sincerely,

Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy