Last Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved by a 16-14 vote a bill that keeps education stagnant in the next fiscal year. Unsurprisingly, the 16-14 vote fell along party lines, with Democrats being in favor and Republicans opposed. The bill aims to reverse some of the cuts made to K-12 education in the current fiscal year (2011, which ends September 30), but there are still programs that would be eliminated under its terms. Overall, the Department of Education would be appropriated $68.43 billion for FY2012 (a tiny increase from the $68.35 billion last year).
Some of the key points of the bill:
A. National non-profits who lost funds in the previous fiscal year, such as the National Writing Project, will have a chance to compete for new funds.
B. Striving Readers, a comprehensive literacy program, gets another year of funding through previous grant money that was not used by the Department of Education.
C. The Promise Neighborhood program, which helps communities develop education programs that incorporate wrap-around services, gets a boost from $29 million in FY2011 to $60 million in FY2012.
D. New money has been earmarked for Race to the Top, which will get $700 million. Additionally, districts will be allowed to compete in the next round, not just states.
E. The Investing in Innovation grant program will get $150 million.
F. The Teacher Incentive Fund, which allocates grants to districts to create pay-for-performance programs, will get only $300 million (down from $400 million last year).
G. Voluntary Public School Choice and the Foreign Language Assistance program will be eliminated.
H. Title I and IDEA grants will receive the same funding as in FY2011 ($15.7 and $11.5 billion, respectively).
I. Teacher training programs that lost all of their federal funding in FY2011, such as Teach for America and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, will get a chance to compete for grant money.
J. Five percent of the Improving Teacher Quality state grants will be set aside for a competition aimed at financing national teacher training and professional programs (up from 1 percent last year).
Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chairs the panel that oversees K-12 spending, admits that with this bill, they went from cutting fat to “[cutting] into the marrow,” but feels the bill preserves the right for all Americans to have a “good education and job skills.”
It is important to keep in mind that this is only a bill approved by the Appropriations Committee. It must go through further approval channels, and will likely be altered considerably before the budget is finalized.
For more information, please visit http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2011/09/bill_hasnt_passed_yet.html