On July 13, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2021 education funding bill, voting to support a $22.5 million increase for Title II-A. This is a win for Learning Forward as it not only preserves last year’s $76 million increase for this critical professional learning program but adds money in a year when Congress’ budget ceiling is not very high. If this bill becomes law – and it still will require the full House to approve, the Senate to approve and the President to sign it, Title II-A will receive $2.154 billion in funding next year. A special shout out to all of the Learning Forward members who reached out to their members of Congress to call for this increase. Your advocacy makes a difference.

The legislative report language accompanying this bill justified the increase because of Title II-A’s focus on two things Learning Forward prizes – teacher skills and leadership:

Title II–A grants provide states and school districts with a flexible source of funding to strengthen the skills and knowledge of teachers, principals, and administrators to enable them to improve student achievement. The committee is supportive of efforts to strengthen school leadership through the Title II–A program. Research has consistently demonstrated that school leadership is second only to classroom instruction as an influence on student learning, and 97 percent of teachers say that the principal is responsible for determining if a school can attract and retain great teachers. The committee particularly takes note of the fact that, under ESEA, states may reserve approximately three percent of their Title II–A formula allocations to carry out activities for principals and other school leaders and encourages states to make use of this optional reservation so as to maximize the impact of the Title II–A program. The committee directs the department to encourage, through guidance or technical assistance, SEAs to utilize the school leader three percent Title II–A set-aside to better drive school improvement efforts.

The full House is expected to vote on this bill before August.

Learning Forward gives a special shout out to Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (WI) for their op-ed in last week’s Time Magazine, “We Must Invest in Teachers to Prevent COVID-19 From Exacerbating the Racial Educational Divide.” In this op-ed, Rep. Khanna and Sen. Baldwin champion federal support for professional development for educators, particularly during this pandemic. They acknowledge that teachers are the most important school-based factor in student success and, as such, an investment in professional learning is critical. They call on the federal government to be a partner in supporting teachers as they support the needs of their students. Funding to support these unprecedented times in education is imperative and using those funds to invest in professional learning will yield positive results for students. We thank Rep. Khanna and Sen. Baldwin for using their voice and leadership to elevate this important issue.