Education Week reports that the stopgap spending measure signed by President Obama [on March 2, 2011] cuts funding to more than a dozen education programs, including high-profile efforts focused on literacy, teaching, and learning. Some of these programs face the prospect of a permanent federal funding loss.
The temporary spending law, intended to keep the government running until March 18 while Democrats and Republicans try to hash out a deal for the rest of the fiscal year, finances most federal programs at fiscal year 2010 levels, notes Education Week. Nonetheless, education programs such as Even Start, Striving Readers, and the privately organized Teach For America, ended up taking dramatic hits. The measure slashes nearly $750 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) most recent overall discretionary budget of $46.6 billion, excluding Pell Grant funding.
Technically, the cuts are only in place for the two-week time period covered under the bill. However, their restoration is considered extremely unlikely, given the aggressive push by lawmakers in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives to slim down the federal government.
Some lawmakers pledged to try to get the funding back. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who heads his chamber’s appropriations subcommittee overseeing K-12 spending, said he would work to restore the cuts in a longer-term spending bill.
“When are we going to learn that we need to stop eating our seed corn?” Sen. Harkin said in an e-mailed statement. “When you cut education, that’s what it amounts to—hurting kids, especially the neediest kids.”
[Editor's note: NSBA's Advocacy teams reports that this two-week Continuing Resolution will be the fifth stopgap measure passed for the fiscal year as the House and Senate continue efforts to negotiate a final appropriations bill for the remainder of FY2011. While the bill eliminates congressional earmarks and terminates a number of programs, current funding levels for Title I grants for disadvantaged students and special education grants to states (IDEA Part B grants) would be extended. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) released guidance documents aimed at informing states about flexibility in their use of federal funds. Review ED's press release and guidance documents by following the first link below.
The federal spending cuts come after an unprecedented influx of federal funds into public education aimed at subduing the effects of the economic downturn. After providing $100 billion for public education as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act in early 2009, Congress and the Obama Administration passed and implemented the Education Jobs Fund, which provided another $10 billion to save education jobs, in August 2010. Follow the second and third links below for background on these federal funding measures.
The cuts at the federal level parallel cuts being made at the state level to the salaries and benefits of public employees, including teachers. For example, in February 2011 Education Week reported on the ongoing battle between Wisconsin's governor and the public employees' union over curtailing of collective bargaining rights. The was also a summary of an Indianapolis Star article on similar dispute between Republicans in the Indiana legislature and the public employees' unions. See the fourth link below for summaries of those articles.]