Washington Update, April 21, 2023
To say it was a busy week following the spring recess would be an understatement. The House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee held their Budget Hearing on the FY24 request for the Department of Education, Speaker McCarthy released his Debt Limit Proposal calling for a roll back to the FY22 funding levels- a nearly 22% cut in funding to non-defense discretionary programs, House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing on school choice and vouchers, and the house passed a GOP-led bill that would ban transgender athletes from women’s and girls’ sports at federally funded schools and educational institutions.
I cannot overstate this – now is the time to get to the table. We need you to help lawmakers understand what these proposed cuts could mean for education. Stay tuned for more direct next steps, but in the meantime don’t forget to respond to action alerts and to follow up with Member offices who you have relationships with.
1. This week, the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee held their Budget Hearing on the FY24 request for the Department of Education and Speaker McCarthy Releases Debt Limit Proposal
This week, the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee held their Budget Hearing on the FY24 request for the Department of Education. The hearing offers Members the opportunity to ask Secretary Cardona questions related to the President’s budget request and for the Secretary to provide rational and feedback on why these critical investments in education programs are needed. In his opening statement, Secretary Cardona presented the FY24 budget request as a choice Congress can make to investment in our nation’s children-raising the bar for education across America. Ranking Member on the Committee Rep. Rosa DeLauro echoed the Secretary’s message in her opening remarks saying, “Investing in kids, not defunding their education is how we make our economy stronger and our future brighter. We should be doing everything we can to increase access to these programs, not cutting off very basic education services for children who need them.” Both the Ranking Member and the Secretary emphasized the need to up our investments in our educator preparation via IDEA-PP-D, the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program, and the Hawkins grants. Together, these programs will provide critical support that is needed to rebuild and diversify the educator and specialized instructional support personnel pipeline.
The hearing came just one day before Speaker McCarthy released his debt limit proposal which would cut non-defense discretionary funding back to the FY22 levels- a 22% overall decrease. Since the Speaker vote in January it had been anticipated that these cuts would be proposed by House leadership and the text was finally released on Wednesday. A vote on the proposal is expected in the House next week.
Last month, Rep. DeLauro sent a letter to all federal agencies asking the respective Secretaries to detail what a roll back to the FY22 levels would mean for their agency. Secretary Cardona responded to Rep. DeLauro’s request outlining in detail just how devastating these cuts would be for students and educators across America. Highlights from the letter include:
- ESEA Title I Grants to LEAs – a reduction to the FY 2022 enacted level would cut $850 million in funding from this program – a cut equivalent to removing more than 13,000 teachers and service providers from classrooms serving low-income children; a 22 percent reduction from the currently enacted level would cut approximately $4.0 billion in funding, impacting an estimated 25 million students and reducing program funding to its lowest level in almost a decade – a cut equivalent to removing more than 60,000 teachers and related service providers from classrooms serving low-income students.
- IDEA Grants to States – a reduction to the FY 2022 enacted level would cut $850 million in funding from this program – a cut equivalent to removing more than 13,000 teachers and service providers from classrooms serving low-income children; a 22 percent reduction from the currently enacted level would cut more than $3.1 billion in funding, impacting an estimated 7.5 million children with disabilities and reducing Federal support to its lowest share since 1997 – a cut equivalent to removing more than 48,000 teachers and related services providers from the classroom.
- Title II-A (Supporting effective instruction State grants) and Title IV-A (Student support and academic enrichment grants) – a reduction to the FY 2022 enacted level would cut more than $35 million for these activities; a 22 percent reduction from the currently enacted level would cut more than $500 million in annual support for teachers and students, curtailing learning opportunities for teachers and school leaders, and hampering school districts’ efforts to promote a well-rounded education for students in safe schools.
The Secretary then released a statement following the release of the debt limit proposal saying:
“Today, Speaker McCarthy declared that he will force a catastrophic default and plunge America into recession unless he can claw back school relief dollars and prevent millions of hardworking Americans – including over 83,000 borrowers in his own district – from getting the student debt relief they need coming out of the pandemic. It’s a shame for students and working families across the country that Republican lawmakers, many of whom benefitted from hundreds of thousands of dollars in small business loan forgiveness, continue to fight hypocritically to deny critical student debt relief to millions of their own constituents. While President Biden, Vice President Harris, and I continue working to deliver much-needed relief to borrowers working to get back on their feet after the pandemic, Speaker McCarthy’s proposal tells us everything we need to know about what he and his allies value—tax cuts for the super rich, special interests, and big corporations over support for hardworking Americans.”
Rep. DeLauro also released a statement saying in part:
“The Speaker did not express concerns when the House voted three times to raise the debt limit under President Trump. The proposed caps mean a cut to critical spending of 22 percent. This means removing more than 100,000 teachers and service providers from classrooms and undermining our children’s education. If implemented, 200,000 children would lose access to Head Start, and 100,000 children would lose access to child care making it more difficult for parents to go to work…”
For additional context already in this Congress, nearly 75 percent of House Republicans voted to eliminate all K-12 education funding by the end of 2023, a cut of $45 billion that supports public education.
2. In the States: Could Early School Board Elections Signal a Change in the Tide
Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Chicago Mayoral races garnered national attention with some analysts suggesting the results could offer a gauge on voter issues heading into the 2024 Presidential election. However, across both states a slate of races that fell relatively under the radar were the highly contested and politicized school board seats. Roughly 30,000 school board elections will occur in more than two dozen states across the nation this year. National, conservative education groups have backed a number of candidates and have highly emphasized issues surrounding critical race theory, parental choice, and transgender students. Yet, following the April 4th election GOP backed candidates did not fare as well as their supporters had hoped. As reported in Politico, Ryan Girdusky, founder of the conservative 1776 Project political action committee said “We lost more than we won.”
Democrats for their part are hopeful the early spring election cycle validates their playbook- affirming pro-public school messaging and ensuring protections for vulnerable and marginalized students.
Kim Anderson, executive director of the National Education Association said:
“Where culture war issues were being waged by some school board candidates, those issues fell flat with voters …The takeaway for us is that parents and community members and voters want candidates who are focused on strengthening our public schools, not abandoning them.”
The Democratic Party of Illinois said 84 of 117 candidates the party recommended won their April 4 races. The Illinois Education Association, the state affiliate of the National Education Association, said it won nearly 90 percent of the races where it endorsed candidates.
As a reminder, polling conducted by Hart Research Associates from December 12-17, 2022, among 1,502 registered voters nationwide, including 558 public school parents, showed that support for and trust in public schools and teachers remained strong:
- 93 percent of respondents said improving public education is an important priority for government officials.
- 66 percent said the government spends too little on education; 69 percent want to see more spending.
- By 29 points, voters said their schools teach appropriate content, with an even greater trust in teachers.
In the same poll, voters suggest the most serious problems facing schools include:
- teacher shortages;
- inadequate funding;
- unsafe schools; and
- pandemic learning loss
3. New Resources for Educators
- Department of Education issued a notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2023 for the 325K grants- which include exciting new changes.
- Department of Education released a fact sheet on the proposed Title IX regulations
- White House announced the most sweeping set of Executive Actions to improve care in history.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.
Until next time, see you on Twitter – (with no blue checkmark)!