GOP Proposal Would Spare Title II, Cut Other Teacher Programs

By Stephen Sawchuk — February 13, 2011 2 min read
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Alyson Klein reports on a House Republican proposal for fiscal 2011 funding over at Politics K-12. The proposal would eliminate some teacher programs but leave the single largest federal teacher-quality program, the Title II state grants, intact.

Before you go getting too excited, worried, or hysterial about this, remember that at this point, it’s only a proposal. It has a good shot of passing the Republican-dominated House, but is likely to get snagged up in the Senate.

Under the plan, the $400 million Teacher Incentive Fund, which supports performance pay for teachers and principals, is preserved. Republicans are supporters of performance pay, so no surprise there.

Not all programs would be as fortunate, including the $43 million Teacher Quality Partnerships program, which supports teachers’ colleges and partners to improve pre-service teacher training.

Erik Robelen reports on the curriculum-related programs slated for cuts, nearly all of which have a professional-development angle.

And there are some smaller earmarks for teacher programs like the National Writing Project, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (which oversees the national board-certification process) and Teach For America also slated for cuts.

Given all that, then, you may be surprised to see that Title II emerges unscathed in the proposal. This formula program almost exclusively supports class-size reduction and professional development—two things that Republicans have historically not been big fans of. So what gives?

That’s a very good question, and although there are no definite answers at the moment, a couple of possibilities come to mind.

Nearly every district gets a cut of Title II, which as I’ve suggested before, makes it less politically palatable to cut. And though it’s got nearly $3 billion in it, there’s less breathing room for districts with this fund than there is with the comparatively large Title I program for disadvantaged students.

On the ground, what this means is that cutting Title II might mean getting rid of one or two teachers’ annual salaries, especially in rural, Republican districts with smaller allocations that put their cut of funds toward class size reduction. In those instances, cutting the Title II program quite literally would mean the end of Ms. Trueheart’s and Mr. Goodman’s teaching positions.

Interestingly, in its never-enacted fiscal 2011 budget request, the Obama administration proposed repurposing about $400 million in Title II grants to support new competitive grant teacher programs.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.