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Letter to the Senate on Labor-HHS-Education

June 13, 2007

Dear Senator:


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 FY08 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 FY07 continuing resolution, this Congress took the first 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. Unfortunately, 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. 

We urge you to continue on the path set out in the FY07 CR and the FY08 budget resolution by:

  • Funding critical programs such as Title I, Title II, and School Improvement Grants at the levels necessary to ensure great public schools for every child (see attached request for K-12 programs);
  • Putting IDEA on a path toward the promised federal share of 40 percent of special education costs -- the single most important step Congress can take to strengthen public education. We strongly hope the Subcommittee will take a different approach than that of the House Subcommittee, which essentially froze IDEA funding at current levels (see attached chart).
  • Significantly increasing the funding for Pell Grants and career and technical education programs to train our workforce to deal with the realities of the 21st century;
  • Placing emphasis on programs (see footnote on dropout programs on the attached chart) that can have a positive impact on keeping students in school and raising the percentage of high school graduates;
  • Restoring the over 40 proven programs targeted for elimination by the Administration;
  • Rejecting any efforts to divert scarce resources to private school vouchers;
  • Limiting 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. 

When Congress mandates federal programs to be implemented at the local level, it must provide the funds to allow schools to meet those requirements. Congress has gotten back on the right track after several years of devastating cuts and freezes. We have lost ground due to inflation and inattention, but you can make positive changes. We urge you to craft an education appropriations bill that provides the resources necessary to guarantee all children the quality public education to which they are entitled.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy