I remember when my kids were little and they wanted my attention, they would get increasingly louder and more persuasive until they succeeded in drawing my attention away from whatever I thought should take precedence at that moment. Well, professional learning leaders, it’s time for us to get louder and more persuasive. The noise overtaking education funding is growing louder and unless we make ourselves heard, Title II-A could be in trouble.

What are members of Congress prioritizing right now? Title II-A appears to be pretty low on the priority ladder for federal policy makers right now and unless we move it up a few rungs, there is likely to be little unclaimed funding left and we could see significant cuts.

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As I am sure you have seen in the news, the need to raise the federal debt ceiling is the leverage that House leadership is using to draw President Biden into federal spending negotiations. With a likely deadline of June 1 for when the nation would default on its debt obligations, time is growing short for the administration and Congress to make a deal. One possible outcome is that overall federal spending is cut back to fiscal year 2022 levels. This does not mean that Title II-A would receive in fiscal year 2024 what it got in fiscal year 2022. It means that overall federal spending would be reduced – and that each federal agency and program would be in line for spending cuts, with some seeing deeper cuts than others.

Once an agreement on overall spending levels is reached, there will be many hurdles for Title II-A funding. Congressional leaders will have to decide how to dole out funds across 12 appropriations bills. The appropriations subcommittee that handles education will likely receive an FY24 allocation that is lower than it received last year. Then, the committee members will need to decide how to split those funds up among many valuable programs, not just in education, but also in health, human services, and labor – think education vs. cancer research vs. career apprenticeships. And then there’s still another big hurdle: education programs will be competing against each other. Title II-A funding will have to be determined alongside funding for Title I, special needs students, Pell Grants, and more. With all those programs competing against each other, we need to make it very clear why Title II-A is vital.

Our tasks are: 1) to make sure U.S. Department of Education funding is seen as a higher priority; and 2) to make sure Title II-A funding is prioritized among other worthy education programs and receives $2.4 billion for fiscal year 2024.

This is overwhelming – what can we do?

This is the time to get loud and get persuasive. Policy makers need to hear from the education community – not in general terms but with specific examples of where Title II-A and high-quality professional learning is making a difference in an educational setting. To get the attention of policy makers for Title II-A, we must show them that professional learning is a critical use of federal funds – one that increases teacher retention, improves workplace conditions, and meets the needs of all students.

Now is the time to act on the alerts coming from Learning Forward. (Next one coming on May 23rd!) Take 30 seconds and send emails to your members of Congress and to the administration.

Get loud! And, like my kids, keep asking. Prepare to share your compelling, context-specific stories of impact. Policy makers want to be able to imagine themselves in your classroom, your school, or your district. You are their constituents. Your voice (and vote) matters to them.

  • Talk about successes you have had because of a coach in your school.
  • Explain the difference collaborative time with your peers has made in thinking about different ways to reach your hardest to reach students.
  • Tell them what your district does that is powered by Title II-A.
  • Tell them what high-quality professional learning means to you.

 

It’s not too late – yet. This funding battle is just beginning but the buzz around professional learning needs to be there from the start to the finish. Join Learning Forward in fighting for high-quality professional learning and the funding to make sure that high-quality professional learning is available for every educator and ensure all students have access to the well-prepared and supported teachers they deserve.

The education funding battle has begun! Policy makers need to hear from the education community with specific examples of where #TitleIIA & high-quality professional learning is making a difference in an educational setting. Click To Tweet
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Melinda George is Learning Forward’s chief policy officer, serving on the Learning Forward leadership team and overseeing Learning Forward’s policy and advocacy work. Melinda has been integral to developing strategy and facilitating networks as well as leading the Learning Forward fundraising team.

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