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Letter to the full Congress in support of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill

November 05, 2007

Dear Representative/Senator:


On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge your support for the conference agreement on the FY08 Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations bill. Votes associated with this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 110th Congress.

We are pleased that the conference report provides significant increases for education programs and reverses the recent trend of cuts and freezes. In particular, the conference report:

  • Increases funding for programs under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) by 6.8 percent (from $23.6 to $25.3 billion). 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.

  • Within NCLB funding, increases resources for Title I by 11.5 percent, from $12.8 to $14.3 billion). The underfunded Title I program provides essential services to help close achievement gaps.

  • Raises the federal share of funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from 17.2 to 17.7 percent. 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.

  • Increases the maximum Pell Grant award from $4,310 to $4,435. Access to postsecondary education allows individuals to succeed in jobs with career potential and upward mobility. Expanding postsecondary education opportunities also helps ensure a well-educated workforce that is competitive for the 21st century. As public universities, long seen as the "affordable" option, have to raise their tuition to make up for severe state budget cutbacks, the ability for low-income individuals to pay for college becomes an even greater challenge.

Again, we urge your support for this important conference agreement.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy