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IDEA Spending Increases but the Federal Share Decreases

 

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

Federal Budget: The Deficit Explodes; Do Earmarks Return?

The federal government’s budget deficit is projected to reach $1.02 trillion in 2020—the first time since 2012 that the deficit breached the $1 trillion threshold—according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The combination of 2017 tax cuts and new spending have been the biggest contributors to the increased deficit. FY 2020 is likely to see spending in the $4.6 trillion range while the government brings in only $3.6 trillion in tax revenue. CBO Director Phillip Swagel said, “Changes in fiscal policy must be made to address the budget situation, because our debt is growing on an unsustainable path.”

House Appropriations Chair, Rep. Nina Lowey (D-NY) is talking with Democratic colleagues to gauge their interest and seek input. The plan under deliberation would be a revised version of past earmarking with rules in place to keep the system in check. One aide to a freshman Democrat who flipped a GOP-held seat in 2018 noted, “This is not what we came to Congress to do. Voters made it clear years ago that they were tired of pork and special interest spending in Washington and sweetheart deals.” However, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer backs the revival of an earmark-type system. However, the Senate does not seem receptive to the idea. “The Republican Caucus is on the record against that, so that’s not going to go anywhere,” said Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL). 

Learn more.

The Reading Wars Continue

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) issued a report this week on how teachers are prepared to teach reading. Its scorecard determined that there was an increase from 35% to 51% of teacher preparation programs, which received a grade of A or B in the preparation of teachers to teach reading. One thousand programs were examined. One notable finding was:

“The type of teacher preparation program matters. Undergraduate programs are nearly twice as likely to teach scientifically- based instructional methods as graduate programs, and four times more likely as non-traditional ‘alternative certification’ programs.”

Read the full report, Program Performance in Early Reading Instruction.

Federal Proportion of IDEA Funds Decreases Despite Actual Increases

Despite an increase of $400 million for Part B of IDEA in FY 2020, the actual federal share of spending decreased from 14.3% in FY 2019 to 13% in FY 2020. This occurs when the number of students needing services increases and/or the intensity of services needed increases. IDEA commits the federal government to paying for up to 40% of the excess cost (above what it costs to educate general education students) of educating students with disabilities. When the federal share of costs declines, state and local funds must make up the difference. For FY 2020, Congress would have had to triple the $12.8 billion it currently provides (reaching $38.4 billion) in order to secure full funding for IDEA.

Learn more.

New Resources for Educators 

  • Education Week offers a summary of education platforms of the Democratic candidates running for President in 2020.
  • iCivics offers a resource for teaching about impeachment.
  • Educational Researcher has published a new article that finds high school GPAs are five times stronger than ACT scores in predicting college graduation.
  • The Bipartisan Policy Center is out with A New Course for Higher Education, a blueprint for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The recommendations were developed over the past 18 months and led by former chairs of the House Committee on Education and Labor, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA).
  • National Center for Homeless Education released data showing that schools identified 1.5 million students who experienced homelessness in the 2017-18 school year, an 11% jump from the previous year

Continue reading the full Washington Update on my website for more information.

I’m off to Portland, OR next week for the annual CEC (Council for Exceptional Children) conference. Hope to see you there, and if not, follow me on twitter @janewestdc.

 


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Jane E. West

AACTE Education Policy Consultant

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