In the shadow of the dome of the U.S. Capitol last week, an old-fashioned bake sale was going on, education-style. On the menu were fudgy Title I brownies and IDEA tortes. The icing on the Pell Grant cupcakes melted in the sun.
The Sept. 13 event was a stunt—no actual sales were made—staged to call attention to what the sponsors view as the need for more federal education funding. Sponsored by the Washington-based Committee for Education Funding, the bake sale featured real goodies and celebrity baker Warren Brown.
Members of the CEF, an umbrella group that lobbies for federal school aid, were protesting proposals in both the House and Senate education appropriations bills that would provide only nominal increases for two key programs: Title I aid and funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Both the House and Senate appropriations committees have approved bills totaling about $56.7 billion in discretionary money for the Department of Education for fiscal 2006, which would essentially freeze spending at this year’s level.
“Congress doesn’t want us to eat cake,” said CEF Executive Director Edward R. Kealy, who presided over the sweets wearing an apron. “They want to starve us this year.”
The sweets were ultimately given away to lobbyists and CEF members in attendance.
The CEF estimated that its members would have to sell 1.49 billion brownies at $6.67 a square to provide the funding authorized for Title I. They’d have to sell 274 million IDEA tortes, at $14.42 each, to keep special education dollars on track toward so-called full funding in six years.
Mr. Brown, a lawyer-turned-baker who owns Washington’s Cake Love Bakery, sliced into his pink-lady cake—a heavenly raspberry, butter-cream concoction—to represent the sliver of dollars from the federal budget pie that goes to education.
“Just imagine if the portion I’ve sliced had to be shared among everyone here,” said Mr. Brown, who has a popular show, “Sugar Rush,” on the cable-TV Food Network. “I think people want more cake.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
A version of this article appeared in the September 21, 2005 edition of Education Week