Here’s the bad news for education funding advocates: The House committee that oversees education spending released legislation Wednesday that would cut the U.S. Department of Education’s overall budget by $1.3 billion overall, or nearly 2 percent.
But there’s also good news for at least some advocates: The legislation would provide a whopping $1 billion for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, aka the big giant block grant in the Every Student Succeeds Act that can be used for everything from education technology to school counseling to college and career readiness. That’s $700 million more than the Senate version of the legislation, and double the $500 million that President Barack Obama asked for.
The spending bill, which is slated for committee consideration Thursday, would provide $67 billion overall for the department, compared to $68.3 billion currently, for fiscal year 2017, which starts on Oct. 1. That money will largely finance the first year of ESSA implementation, the 2017-18 school year.
Unsurprisingly, the bill does not create the $120 million “Stronger Together” program that Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. pitched in his budget to encourage socioeconomic diversity in schools.
And in another key policy twist, the bill would stop the department from moving forward on new teacher preparation regulations that rely in part on student test scores.
The legislation would also provide $12.4 billion for special education state grants, an increase of $500 million over current levels. And it would finance Impact Aid, which helps school districts make up for a federal presence, at $1.3 billion, a $23 million increase.
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