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Letter to the Senate Opposing the House-passed FY 2011 CR and Supporting the Senate Alternative

March 08, 2011

Dear Senator:


The National Education Association (NEA) strongly opposes the House-passed full year continuing resolution for fiscal year 2011 (H.R.1).  This deeply troubling resolution would slash federal funding for education programs, with devastating consequences for students, communities, and our nation.  We urge you to:

  • VOTE NO on the House-passed version of H.R. 1 when it comes to the Senate floor this week; and
  • VOTE YES on the Senate alternative.

Votes associated with these issues may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 112th Congress. 

H.R. 1 and the Senate substitute present vastly different visions for investments in education and our nation’s future.  H.R. 1 as passed by the House would effectively gut Title I, Head Start for children, and Pell Grants to disadvantaged college students, among other proven programs.  In so doing, it will take us in the wrong direction — away from economic recovery and the investments needed to ensure a competitive, strong nation.  In contrast, the Senate alternative rejects these harmful cuts and instead provides for modest, targeted increases in critical programs. 

Particularly in these troubling economic times, we should be investing in education, not slashing resources and jeopardizing our children’s future.  Research shows an inextricable link between investment in education and economic strength.  In addition to widespread productivity increases, the higher earnings of educated workers generate higher tax payments at the local, state, and federal levels.  Consistent productive employment reduces dependence on public income-transfer programs and all workers, regardless of education level, earn more when there are more college graduates in the labor force.  (Education Pays, The College Board, 2007). 

The draconian cuts contained in the House-passed bill would dash the dreams of countless American students, put additional strain on state budgets already cut to the bone, and stall the engine that drives our economy.  For example:

  • Title I, which provides additional resources to assist educationally disadvantaged children in high-poverty schools, would be cut by $693 million, reducing or eliminating services for 957,00 thousand high-risk children and potentially causing the loss of over 9,000 education jobs.  According to First Focus, from 2008 to 2009, the number of America’s children that live in poverty grew by close to 2 million.  In 2009, child poverty reached a level of 20.7 percent — a rate of more than one in five and totaling more than 15.5 million children.  This makes Title I funding even more important, and cuts even more dangerous, as without these resources, far too many children will not have the supports they need to succeed. 
  • Pell grants would be cut by $5.6 billion, making it more difficult for low- and middle-income families to pay for college.  These cuts would eliminate or reduce aid for almost 1.5 million students.
  • Head Start, which has a proven record of providing high-quality early childhood education, health, social services, and parental involvement programs, would be cut by over $1 billion, leading to elimination of enrollment slots for 196,000 poor children and the potential loss of over 26,000 jobs

The Senate alternative recognizes the need to invest for the future by  maintaining the Pell grant maximum award, literacy programs and campus-based aid while providing modest increases for Title I grants to high-poverty school districts, IDEA state grants, after-school programs, and Head Start.  We are disappointed, however, that the Senate version places a higher priority on competitive grants than on core education programs like Title I and IDEA that are targeted to those with the greatest needs.

Policymakers need to make tough choices to restore fiscal discipline, but they should not jeopardize students’ education, and, in turn, all of our futures.  If the House cuts are enacted, countless working families will see their children’s future vanish before their eyes. 

The Senate has a chance to do the right thing — to stand up for children, schools, communities, and our nation.  We urge you to reject the House bill and support the Senate alternative. 

Sincerely,

Kim Anderson         
Director of Government Relations

Mary Kusler
Manager of Federal Advocacy