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Letter to the House of Representatives on education funding for the FY09 Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Bill

June 19, 2008

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to share our views on education funding as you mark-up the FY09 Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations bill.

A strong public education system is critical to the future strength and economic well-being of our nation. In the past two years, this Congress took essential steps toward restoring education cuts and freezes enacted over the last half dozen years and providing the resources necessary to fulfill every child's right to a great public school. Most recently, the FY09 Congressional Budget Resolution rejected further cuts and program eliminations proposed by the President. We greatly appreciate the leadership role of the subcommittee and committee in securing these much needed increases over the past few years.

Despite these positive steps, however, too many of our students still are not receiving the tools and help they need to succeed. Additional investments in proven programs such as Title I and IDEA special education as well as higher education programs such as Pell Grants are essential if we are to close achievement gaps and maximize the academic potential of every student.

To meet continuing urgent needs, we urge you to:

  • Fund critical programs such as Title I, Title II, and School Improvement Grants at the levels necessary to ensure great public schools for every child, including increasing Title I by $3 billion (from $13.9 billion to $16.9 billion) and putting it on a path to be doubled in funding over five years.

  • Increase funding for IDEA special education by $2.3 billion (from $10.9 billion to $13.2 billion). This increase would raise the federal share of special education costs from 17 to 20 percent.

  • Significantly increase the funding for Pell Grants and career and technical education programs to train our workforce to deal with the realities of the 21st Century, including increasing the Pell Grant maximum to $5,100 (from $4,310).

  • Reject any efforts to divert scarce resources to private school vouchers;

  • Limit funding for the unauthorized Teacher Incentive Fund so that funds can instead be targeted to Title II Teacher Quality State grants. This will allow all states, rather than just a few select districts, to increase investments in teacher quality.

Congress is back on the right track for education funding after several years of devastating cuts and freezes. We urge you to continue on this path and craft an education appropriations bill that provides the resources necessary to guarantee all children the quality public education to which they are entitled.


Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy