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Letter to all House Members who voted to override the veto of the Labor-HHS-Ed appropriations bill

December 03, 2007

Dear Senator/Representative:


On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge Congress to craft an omnibus spending package for fiscal year 2008 that funds critical education programs at the highest possible levels.

We were deeply disappointed that the House fell just two votes short of overriding the President's veto of the FY08 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill -- a bill that would have made a real difference in ensuring schools and students the resources necessary to succeed. As Congress now crafts an omnibus funding package, we urge you to keep in mind the urgent need for meaningful increases for education programs including:

  • Programs under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). NCLB was based on laudable goals of maximizing student achievement and closing achievement gaps. Yet, many schools lack the resources needed to implement proven strategies to close achievement gaps, such as smaller classes, early childhood education, after-school programs, and improved professional development for teachers and education support professionals. Providing mandates without the resources necessary to implement them simply sets up schools and students for failure. For example, if Title I were fully funded at its authorized level, an additional 4.5 million children could receive needed services. These services are essential to closing achievement gaps.

  • IDEA. For more than 30 years the federal government has mandated that local school districts be responsible for educating special education students, regardless of cost. Over the past decade, the federal share of IDEA funding has risen, but the last two years have seen a slide in the percentage of special education funding provided by the federal government. Please reverse this trend and fund IDEA at the highest possible level.

  • Career and Technical Education. The last substantial increase in funding for Career and Technical Education occurred in FY 2002. Since that time, funds have actually decreased by $17 million, although funding needs have grown dramatically. From 1999-2000 to 2002-2003, enrollment in career and technical education increased by almost 60 percent, and this trend is continuing. Enrollment increased 13 percent from the 2002-2003 school year to the 2004-2005 school year. We urge Congress to reject the President's demands to cut in half funding for this important program.

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