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Congress Makes Progress Toward Completing Education Funding Bill

A group of children drawing a hopscotch game on a floor with dollar signs.

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide update information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Congress Still Working to Avoid that Government Shutdown

The current continuing resolution—a bill that keeps the government temporarily funded – expires next week, on November 21. Congressional leaders have been scrambling this week to find a way to keep government funding extended beyond that time, and thus avoid a government shutdown. They appear to be closing in on another temporary funding extension—through December 20—predicated on progress on the big obstacle, which is agreeing on top line totals for each of the 12 funding bills. Since the House and Senate did not agree on those totals before they wrote their bills, there are significant discrepancies which can only be resolved by a House/Senate agreement on one figure for each bill.  This is critical for the bill that funds education, as the House bill is about $5 billion more generous for education than the Senate draft bill.

Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) reported that she is optimistic that the top line numbers will be resolved and that all of the 12 funding bills for FY 2020 (which would run through October 1, 2020) could be completed by December 20.  The big obstacle remains where to find the $5 billion for the border wall with Mexico which is President Trump’s top priority; it is opposed by Democrats.  There is speculation that if the President’s priority is not accommodated, he may refuse to sign the bill and a government shutdown might ensue.  Of course, this would also be quite a distraction from the ongoing impeachment hearings, which many have speculated may be his strategy.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/Education has indicated that when the Subcommittees are provided with the top line number for each bill, he and Rep. Rosa DeLauro—his House counterpart—could finish their bill within a week. What a Christmas present this would be for educators!

Learn more.

New Resources for Educators

  • The Education Law Center is out with Making the Grade 2019 which reports that K-12 public school funding continues to be deeply unfair in many states and represents a major factor responsible for disparities in education resources, opportunities, and outcomes for the 50 million public school children across the country. One stunning fact is the variation in per pupil spending across the states.  For example, Arizona provides $8,569 per pupil while Vermont spends $27,588 per pupil. Learn more.
  • The National Education Policy Center released Seven Trends in U.S. Teacher Education , and the Need to Address Systemic Injustices.
  • Forbes Magazine is out with a good overview of the teacher shortage: To Curb The Teacher Shortage, We Need To Think Bigger About The Problem
  • The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy released a report that finds over 36 million adults in the U.S. lack bask literacy skills costing the nation up to $1.4 trillion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Continue reading the full Washington Update on my website for more information. Follow me on Twitter @janewestdc.

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Jane E. West

AACTE Education Policy Consultant