Learning Forward Advocacy
Congress Gets Back to Work – Title II-A Faces Big Challenges
Congress is now fully back from its August recess – and it is facing a mountain of work. Its first task will be to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR), a temporary spending measure that will keep the government operating beyond October 1, when the new fiscal year begins. The nation is in this predicament because Congress has not and likely will not be able to pass any of the twelve separate Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills that fund federal government agencies and program owing to funding disagreements and controversial policy riders. Just getting a short-term CR of two to three months done is shaping up to be a heavy lift. House conservatives are demanding deeper cuts to federal spending in exchange for their votes on a CR, something which Senate Democrats and the White House oppose. Resolving this impasse will be the federal government’s focus in September.
Meanwhile, the House and Senate will try to make progress on passing and even negotiating the final versions of the Fiscal Year 2024 funding bills. The central challenge to moving these is the stratospherically different overall and individual program funding levels that the House and the Senate Appropriations Committees have advanced. For example, the House Appropriations Subcommittee’s proposed funding level for the US Department of Education is more than $20 billion below what its Senate counterpart has approved and what Congress itself passed last year. Amongst other cuts, the House version would eliminate Title II-A entirely, as well as cut Title I by 80%. The Senate version maintains funding at last year’s levels for most programs – including Title II-A.
Learning Forward is working hard to preserve at least level funding for Title II-A, as the Senate Appropriations committee has already agreed to do. But we will need the help of everyone in the Learning Forward community to weigh-in for their Members of Congress on the value proposition of federal spending on professional learning, particularly in terms of learning recovery and student achievement. If we do not succeed, our students, schools and fellow educators will face tough budgetary decisions next year.
Call to Action - Save Title II-A
Members of Congress will return after Labor Day and appropriations and continued funding to keep the government open are going to be the issues front and center for every member of Congress. Now is not the time to be complacent. We need to remain vigilant in our efforts to save Title II-A. On July 18, Fred Brown issued a call to action to all educators to help save Title II-A. If you are reading this message, please take a moment to send a message to your members of Congress. Press the blue button below to get started.
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Congress returned from its August recess and faces a mountain of work. Its first task will be to pass a continuing resolution, a temporary spending measure that will keep the government operating beyond October 1 when the new fiscal year begins. As Congress moves to pass a continuing resolution, the House and Senate will continue to try to make progress on passing and even negotiating the final versions of the fiscal year 2024 funding bills. The central challenge to moving these is the stratospherically different overall and individual program funding levels that the House and the Senate Appropriations Committees have advanced. For example, the House Appropriations Subcommittee’s proposed funding level for the U.S. Department of Education is more than $20 billion below what its Senate counterpart has approved and what Congress passed last year.
Among other cuts, the House version would eliminate Title II-A, as well as cut Title I by 80%. The Senate version maintains funding at last year’s levels for most programs – including Title II-A. Learning Forward is working hard to preserve at least level funding for Title II-A, as the Senate Appropriations Committee has already agreed to do. But we need the help of everyone in the Learning Forward community to weigh-in to their members of Congress on the value proposition of federal spending on educator professional learning, particularly in terms of its impact on learning recovery and student achievement. If we do not succeed, our students, schools, and fellow educators will face tough budgetary decisions next year.
On July 27, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee held a full-committee markup to consider several bills, including the fiscal year 2024 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education (LHHS-ED) funding bill. Bypassing a subcommittee markup, the full committee approved the bipartisan spending bill that would provide $79.6 billion in discretionary funding to the U.S. Department of Education in FY24. This topline number is roughly the same as what was appropriated to the Department of Education in FY23. Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican from Nebraska, and Sen. Bill Hagerty, a Republican from Tennessee, were the sole votes against the bill as it easily advanced out of committee.
Unlike the House LHHS-ED bill, the Senate funds education programs at similar levels as last year, with modest increases for programs like Title I (+$175 million), Impact Aid (+$10 million), IDEA (+$175 million), Title IV-A (+$20 million), CTE State Grants (+$40 million), and Title III (+$7 million). Title II-A and federal funding for charter schools received level funding. Given the stark differences between the Senate and House bills, there will be much to reconcile, especially among programs that were cut by the House LHHS-ED subcommittee altogether. Negotiations between the two committees will have to hold for at least the next month as Congress has entered August recess.
During her opening statement on the LHHS-ED bill, Subcommittee Chair Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, stated that while she wished they could have invested more, the bill is a bipartisan compromise to avoid defaulting on our nation’s debt, which is a stark contrast to the House’s LHHS-ED bill. Further, she stated that the House’s approach to this appropriations cycle threatens a government shutdown and sequestration to defense and non-defense programs. Subcommittee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, highlighted specific increases for Title I and IDEA but did not mention the House’s bill.
Below is a breakdown of K-12 funding levels:
Learning Forward’s Powered by Title II campaign website puts all of the information, tools, and advocacy tutorials in one easy to access online location to enable educator advocates reach their Members of Congress and help convince them to support more Title II funding. On this site, advocates will find:
- The latest news on Title II
- Background facts, stories, research, and data on Title II
- A storytelling tool to assist you in researching and explaining how Title II supports your school district
- Sample letters, talking points, tweets and more to support your advocacy
Evidence, evidence, evidence
Evidence of impact is not optional. From your ESSA plans to Title II to talking with your district superintendent, everyone wants to know when professional development is making an impact and how you know. Learning Forward is here to help. We invite you to join your peers from across the U.S. to share your successes here.
Tell us what Title II funds in your school or district, and most important, what outcomes you see as a result. Outcomes might include improved graduation rates or assessment scores, improvements for specific populations of students, or other indicators that students are experiencing more meaningful learning.
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