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US federal budget in motion

08-26-21 advocacy blog thumbnail

The $3.5 trillion Budget Reconciliation Act, which may contain hundreds of billions of dollars for Biden Administration priorities like free community college, free pre-K, and teacher preparation programs, is beginning to move more quickly down the path to enactment. This week, the full House of Representatives approved a Budget Reconciliation bill that establishes the topline numbers and general categories where dollars will be spent. Like the Senate’s version of the same bill, approved three weeks ago, the House bill allocates more than $700 billion for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. Now, House and Senate Committees will begin determining to which policy priorities and programs these dollars will go, with final passage likely later this fall.

President Biden’s American Families Plan, which is the template Congress will use in allocating Budget Reconciliation funding, seeks $9 billion for Education and Preparation for Teachers. It makes the case for this spending by declaring: “Few people can have a bigger impact on a child’s life than a great teacher. Unfortunately, the U.S. faces a large and growing teacher shortage…[W]hile teachers of color can have a particularly strong impact on students of color, around one in five teachers are people of color, compared to more than half of K-12 public school students.”

The American Families Plan calls for investing this $9 billion in three main categories:

  • Addressing teacher shortages, improving teacher preparation, and strengthening pipelines for teachers of color;
  • Helping current teachers earn in-demand credentials; and
  • Investing in educator leadership.

 

Learning Forward supports these priorities. We are working closely with our allies to make sure that some of these investments are steered towards recruiting, retaining, and providing professional learning to principals and school leaders as well as teachers.

Before the final passage of this Budget Reconciliation Act, Learning Forward and its members will have an opportunity to influence in which American Families Plan priorities Congress decides to invest. We will be pulling out all of the stops, including direct advocacy in Washington and requesting our members to weigh in directly with Congress.

For now, we’re keeping you posted on developments with the Budget Reconciliation Act. Soon, we’ll ask you to add your voice to the request for significant new support for professional learning for all of our educators.

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Melinda George
(melinda.george@learningforward.
org) is chief policy officer at Learning
Forward.

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