Congress Releases Spending Bills
Congress released the details of the annual spending agreement reached this week that will fund most of the federal government, including the Department of Education, for the remainder of the fiscal year.
By law, these bills should have been completed by September 30. However, due to disagreements over various spending and other legislative priorities between the two parties and the House and Senate, the government has been funded by a series of continuing resolutions, which financed the government at previously agreed upon levels.
Congress is expected to pass the spending package, often referred to as an Omnibus, and President Biden will sign it into law by the end of the week, adverting a government shutdown and allowing federal agencies to begin to implement the bill’s provisions.
Specifically, the Omnibus provides $79.6 billion for the Department of Education, an increase of $3.9 billion, including
- $115 million, an increase of 21 percent, for Special Education Personnel Preparation, which will help address the chronic shortage of special educators.
- $23 million for American History and Civics, an increase of $15 million above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level. This discretionary grant program provides funding to veteran and new teachers to strength their knowledge of American History, Civic, and Government education.
- $90 million, an increase of $5 million over the fiscal year 2022 enacted level, for the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program with a priority for professional development and pathways into teaching that includes a strong foundation in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and “whole child” strategies.
- $70 million for Teacher Quality Partnerships, an increase of $11 million above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level. TQP is a critical program designed to recruit highly qualified individuals, including minorities and individuals from other occupations, into the teaching force.
- $15 million for Hawkins Centers of Excellence, an increase of $7 million above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level. The intent of this program is to increase the number of well-prepared teachers, including teachers of color, resulting in a more diverse teacher workforce prepared to teach in our Nation’s low performing elementary and secondary schools and close achievement gaps.
- $808 million for Institute of Education Sciences (IES), an increase of $71 million above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level. The independent and non-partisan Institute of Education Sciences (IES) provides scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to interested parties.
Furthermore, the bill increases the maximum Pell Grant award by $500 or 7.2 percent to $7,395 for the 2023-24 school year, the largest increase in the maximum Pell grant award since the 2009-10 school year. It also includes $285 million, an increase of $50 million, for the Registered Apprenticeship program to expand apprenticeship opportunities, including in traditionally underrepresented fields.
While AACTE is pleased to see many of its federal legislative priorities funded in this bill, Congress must do more to address the educator shortage impacting nearly every school in the nation, diversify the educator profession, and ensure that all students have access to a safe and secure environment to learn.