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Democrats Oppose the FY2024 Labor HHS-Education Bill

This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

There is a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill as Members race towards the August recess. This week, Democrats in the House pushed back on the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee’s proposed draconian cuts to education funding. Your voices and advocacy efforts are needed more now perhaps than ever before.

Democrats Hold a Virtual Press Conference Opposing the FY2024 Labor HHS- Education Bill

On Friday, Democrats issued a press release and held a virtual press conference opposing the FY2024 Labor HHS- Education Bill. As you will recall, the bill puts forth an overall cut to the Department of Education of $22.1 billion or a 28% decrease compared to the current FY2023 enacted levels. The bill also seeks to use policy riders as a means to block a number of Biden Administration proposals surrounding education and student debt relief.

In the press release, Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) said in part:

“When 161 House Republicans voted earlier this year to eliminate all K-12 funding at the Department of Education, I was horrified, but that was just the beginning. Now, in the midst of a teacher shortage, they have introduced a bill that would kick 224,000 teachers from classrooms. We are witnessing a widespread attack on education at all levels that should horrify all of us … From preschool to Federal Work Study to financial aid to job training programs, regardless of age or stage in life, this bill means you cannot count on the government for any help. These awful cuts will make it very hard for people and should not even be considered by the full Appropriations Committee.”

As outlined by the Committee, the bill’s proposed cuts would have a profound impact on children, teachers, and families across America, including but not limited to the following:

  • Reducing services for young children. The bill will eliminate access to early childhood education for 51,000 children through cuts to Head Start.
  • Kicking teachers out of classrooms. Under this bill, during a severe nationwide teacher shortage, 224,000teachers could be removed from classrooms serving low-income students due to House Republican cuts to Title I.
  • Eliminating services for English learners. The House Republican bill eliminates federal support for vital academic services for 5,131,000 English learners through the elimination of English Language Acquisition (Title III).

  • Eliminating Federal Work Study. The bill eliminates Federal Work Study for the 659,000 students who need it to help finance a postsecondary education, limiting their potential earnings and future success in the job market.
  • Eliminating need-based financial aid. The House Republican bill takes away need-based financial aid for 1,666,000 students through the elimination of Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG).

  • Eliminating youth employment opportunities. The bill eliminates WIOA Youth Job Training, which would deny job training and employment services for 126,000 youth who face barriers to finding a good paying job.

  • Eliminating adult employment opportunities. The bill eliminates WIOA Adult Job Training, which would deny job training and employment services for 294,000 adults who face barriers to finding a good paying job.

The press release includes a breakdown of what these cuts would mean state by state. Read the full press release. Watch the virtual press conference.

The Council for Exceptional Children Issues Action Alert in Response to the House Labor HHS-Education Appropriations bill

On Friday, the Council for Exceptional Children issued an action alert in response to the House Labor HHS-Education Appropriations bill. Please join CEC in making some loud noise in opposition to cuts to education. Send a message to your Member of Congress.

Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), reintroduce the Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act

Earlier this week, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), reintroduced the Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act: bipartisan legislation to address teacher and principal shortages, particularly in rural communities, and increase teacher diversity.

In a press release Senators Kaine and Collins highlighted the importance of this bill saying in part:

“Our nation’s educators are critical to ensuring students’ success, which is why I’m committed to finding solutions to address teacher and principal shortages in Virginia and across the country…I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill to expand teacher training programs and help boost diversity among the teacher workforce,” said Senator Kaine.

“Teacher and principal shortages at schools across the country, particularly in rural areas in the State of Maine, impede our students’ ability to reach their full potential…This bipartisan bill would increase access to high-quality teacher and leader training programs and extend federal support for recruiting well-prepared educators for areas affected by teacher shortages,” said Senator Collins.

As outlined by the co-sponsors, the PREP Act would achieve the following:

  • Expand the definition of “high need” districts under the Every Student Succeeds Actto include schools experiencing teacher shortages in rural communities as well as in areas like special education; English language; science, technology, engineering, math; and career and technical education (CTE) in order to give schools access to additional support. Having the “high need” label can provide additional federal resources.

  • Encourage school districts to create partnerships, including Grow Your Own programs, with local community colleges and universities to ensure their programs are educating future teachers in areas where there is a shortage of educators.

  • Set aside a separate fund of existing federal dollars for states to address state teacher and school leader shortagesimprove educator preparation programs, and increase teacher and school leader diversity.

  • Require states to identify areas of teacher or school leader shortages by subject across public schools and use that data to target their efforts.

  • Increase support for educator preparation programs at minority-serving institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Tribal Colleges and Universities to support a diverse and well-prepared educator workforce. The majority of students in our nation’s public schools are students of color, and the teaching workforce is only comprised of 20% teachers of color. Recruiting and retaining a racially diverse mix of teachers and school leaders have a strong positive effect on closing the achievement gap for students of color.

Wishing you all a wonderful week. Until next time, see you on Twitter!

Kait @brennan_kait.