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Letter to Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees Regarding Education Priorities in any FY2010 Funding Bill

November 12, 2009

Dear Representative:


As Congress prepares to craft an FY 2010 omnibus funding package, 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.  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.  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 levels provided for education in FY10, 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 negative consequences of this drop-off in funding will require taking significant steps to increase funding for these programs beginning in FY 2010.

To this end, we urge Congress to provide in the final FY 2010 funding package the following priorities, as included in the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill passed by the full House earlier this year. 

  • Title I: Full restoration of the Administration’s proposed $1.5 billion cut. Restoring the full proposed cut will ensure that 20 million disadvantaged students in nearly 55,000 public schools receive the assistance they need to succeed.  In addition, this funding will help set the stage for preventing a future devastating drop-off in funding for Title I after funding provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expires in 2011. 
  • IDEA/Special Education: Meet the President’s request for funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  The $11.5 billion funding level provided in the House-passed and Senate-committee-passed appropriations bill, which builds on the $11.3 billion provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will result in a historic federal contribution level toward the costs of educating students with disabilities.
  • Pell Grants: An increase in funding for Pell Grants for a maximum grant of $5,500 ($200 increase over the 2009 level of $5,300).  This increase will ensure that the neediest students have greater purchasing power to access and complete the post-secondary education so critical to success in jobs with career potential and upward mobility.
  • English Language Learner Grants: Increase funding by $30 million (+4.4%, from $730 million to $760 million), thereby ensuring needed services for students for whom English is not the first language. 
  • After-School Programs: Increase funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers by $50 million (+ 4.1%, from $1.13 billion to $1.18 billion), thereby expanding the number of students who can benefit from safe, high-quality, after-school programs.

We also strongly urge Congress to limit funding for the Teacher Incentive Fund, to no more than the $300 million included in the Senate-committee-passed bill, if not less. We continue to believe that funding provided for this program would be more appropriately redirected to proven, underfunded programs that reach all states and school districts and encourage a further reduction, particularly while Title I resources are slated for cuts or level funding.  We support language to ensure programs receiving awards are subject to collective bargaining or a 75 percent support vote (in non-bargaining states) of staff or the through the organization representing the majority of educators. 

Finally, we urge Congress to place a cap of no more than $30 million on the Secretary of Education’s reserve fund under the federal charter school program that would provide money directly to Charter Management Organizations.  We also support language specifying that no funds from this program should go to for-profit entities.

We thank you for your attention to these important issues and look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure great public schools for every student.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy