Education Funding

Education Advocates Anxious Amid Budget Uncertainty

By Alyson Klein — April 05, 2011 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

With the threat of a federal government shutdown looming—and education advocates anxious about the prospect of further federal aid cuts—congressional lawmakers last week wrangled over a bill to finance the federal government through the end of September.

The current stopgap spending measure expires April 8, and with lawmakers and the administration negotiating behind closed doors, it was unclear how—or even whether—the two sides would be able to come together on a longer-term bill before that deadline.

“We’re going to continue to fight for the largest spending cuts that we can get,” Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters last week.

But Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the subcommittee overseeing education spending, said in a statement: “We all recognize that we need to reduce spending, and any compromise we reach on the budget will include significant cuts. But if we want to stay strong as a nation, we have to maintain a ladder of opportunity for our young people.”

Education advocates have been carefully monitoring the budget negotiations because a range of K-12 programs could be on the chopping block, along with other domestic discretionary programs.

House Republicans want to rein in domestic spending in order to get the nation’s fiscal house in order. They already have approved a bill that would slice more than $5 billion out of the budget of the U.S. Department of Education, plus $1 billion from Head Start, an early-childhood program for disadvantaged students.

The Democratically controlled Senate defeated the spending cuts, but did not pass its own version of a longer-term spending bill.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, is seeking modest increases, including for key programs such as Title I and special education and new money to continue Race to the Top and the Investing in Innovation grant programs, the administration’s signature grant competitions, started under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Stopgap-Bill Cuts

Typically, the budget process winds up in late fall, but this year, lawmakers were unable to agree on a spending plan for fiscal 2011, which technically started back on Oct. 1 of last year. Lawmakers have passed six extension measures in all, financing most programs at fiscal 2010 levels since then.

But several of those stopgap bills have also included cuts to high-profile education programs, including the elimination of the $250 million Striving Readers program, a comprehensive literacy program, and the $67 million Even Start Family Literacy program.

Education advocates argue that K-12 programs can’t withstand further cuts.

Federal funds—particularly Title I funds for disadvantaged children—are desperately needed, given the cloudy fiscal picture in most states and districts, said Mary Kusler, the manager of federal advocacy for the National Education Association, a 3.2 million-member teachers’ union.

“At a time where one in five children lives in poverty, there is no greater imperative than to provide school districts with desperately needed Title I dollars to help students become college-and-career ready,” she said.

A version of this article appeared in the April 06, 2011 edition of Education Week as Education Advocates Anxious as Budget Deadline Looms


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Why Retaining Education Leaders of Color Is Key for Student Success
Today, in the United States roughly 53 percent of our public school students are young people of color, while approximately 80 percent of the educators who lead their classrooms, schools, and districts are white. Racial
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding Citing Supply Chain Issues, Inflation, USDA Boosts Funding for School Meals
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will boost reimbursements for school lunches as districts face COVID-related challenges.
2 min read
Second grader Amado Soto eats his lunch socially distanced from his fellow students in the cafeteria at Perez Elementary School during the coronavirus pandemic on Dec. 3, 2020, in Brownsville, Texas.
Second grader Amado Soto eats lunch socially distanced from his fellow students at Perez Elementary School in December.
Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald via AP
Education Funding More Federal Aid Is Coming for Schools Struggling to Buy Food Due to Supply-Chain Crisis
The $1.5 billion USDA infusion is the second in several months to help schools purchase food amid shortages and price increases.
2 min read
Stacked Red Cafeteria trays in a nearly empty lunch room.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding School Districts Are Starting to Spend COVID Relief Funds. The Hard Part Is Deciding How
A new database shows districts' spending priorities for more than $122 billion in federal aid are all over the place.
8 min read
Educators delivering money.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding The Political Spotlight on Schools' COVID Relief Money Isn't Going Away
Politicians and researchers are among those scrutinizing the use and oversight of billions in pandemic education aid.
7 min read
Business man with brief case looking under a giant size bill (money).
iStock/Getty Images Plus