MSA Policy Blog: Your Source Inside the Beltway
Feeling the Squeeze of Sequestration
Congress finalized the FY 2013 budget, which funds the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies. Most programs are reduced by 5% due to across-the-board sequestration cuts. This includes funding for Title I, IDEA, School Improvement Grants, and the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP), which is reduced by $4.86 million. This will ultimately impact the number MSAP grants awarded this year. To see a chart detailing all the cuts to federal education programs created by the Committee for Education Funding, please click here
MSA visited many congressional offices over the last month to express its strong opposition to sequestration and further cuts to MSAP. Over the last three years, MSAP has been reduced by approximately $8.2 million. (From $100 million in 2010 to $91.8 million in 2013). These are the largest funding cuts in the program's history!
To express your opposition to sequestration and further education funding cuts visit our new Take Action Center to send a message to your elected officials.
Senate Appropriations Committee Passes (FY 2013 Spending Bill)
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee advanced the Labor, HHS, and Education appropriations bill that will fund the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and its grant programs next year. The new fiscal year (FY 2013) began October 1, 2012. The committee passed the bill by a partisan vote of (16-14). The proposed legislation would increase overall education funding by approximately $400 million or .5 percent. If enacted, the department would receive $68.5 billion next year.
The Department of Education's two largest programs, Title I grants to school districts and IDEA state grants would each increase by $100 million. The Obama's administration's signature program, Race-to-the-Top (RTTT) would receive a $50 million increase and the Promise Neighborhoods program, which provides wrap-around social services to students, would increase by $20 million.
The Ranking Republican on the committee, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), expressed his disappointment in the administration's reliance on the competitive RTTT program stating,"It only benefits students in states that implement the administration's prescriptive education agenda." Senator Shelby was also unhappy that the Mathematics and Science Partnerships program was reduced by approximately $50 million.
Many education programs were level-funded including the Investing in Innovation (i3), Teacher Incentive Fund, and School Improvement Grant program.
The Arts in Education program, which has been under assault from Republicans in the House of Representatives and did not receive funding in the president's proposed budget, would be increased by 6.2 percent in the Senate bill. The chairman of the committee, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) is a long-time supporter of arts education programs.
The Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) would be reduced by approximately $2.8 million. Committee staff said the department has to reprogram this money because it is in excess of FY12 continuation costs, but not enough to support a new grant competition.
Click here to review all education program funding levels in the Senate bill.
House Committee Passes Final Two ESEA Bills
The House Education and Workforce Committee passed H.R. 3989, the Student Success Act and H.R. 3990, the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act by a partisan vote of (23-16). No Democrats voted for the legislation. This completes the committee's work to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). To read a summary of the bills click here.
Chairman, John Kline, (R-MN), stated, "With these proposals, we aim to shrink federal intrusion in classrooms and return responsibility for student achievement to states and school districts."
To read statements supporting the legislation from the American Association of School Administrators, National School Boards Association, and the Council of Chief State School Officers click here.
Congressman George Miller, (D-CA) stated, "The legislation will turn the clock back decades on equity and accountability in American public education. The majority has chosen a highly partisan process. And for that reason, to my deep disappointment, No Child Left Behind will likely remain the law of the land."
Representative Miller added that civil rights, disability, and parent groups do not support Chairman Kline's bills. He offered two substitutes to replace them entirely. This action was not approved, but it serves as the Democrats' alternative legislation. To see a summary of these bills click here.
In a prepared statement, Representative Miller said his legislation:
- Supports college and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments;
- Includes a state-driven accountability and school improvement system modeled after the NCLB waivers;
- Ensures students with disabilities remain in the accountability system;
- Retains (Maintenance of Effort) funding requirements;
- Restores science assessment;
- Restores individual programs for English Language Learners, migrant students, neglected and delinquent students, Indian students and rural students;
- Restores support for consolidated funding streams for literacy, STEM, wrap-around services, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers; and
- Supports high quality teacher and principal evaluation.
MSAP Language Included in New House ESEA Bill
The Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, John Kline (R-MN) released two new draft bills that would finish the committee's work reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Thus far, the committee has taken a piecemeal approach by releasing three separate bills last year that would change different sections of the current law.
Utilizing the10th anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the chairman said his legislation would improve accountability, increase flexibility, support more effective teachers, and dramatically reduce the federal role in education.
The first bill, the Student Success Act, would end the use of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) to measure student performance. Instead, it would allow states to design their own accountability system, but would keep the law's current testing schedule, and require schools to assess students in Mathematics and English (grades 3-8) and once in high school. It would end the assessment of Science.
In stark contrast to the legislation released by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the House bill would not require the creation of "college and career ready" standards and would actually prevent the Secretary of Education from encouraging the adoption of any form of uniform standards, leaving this role to the states.
Chairman Kline's bill would also discontinue the School Improvement Grant program and its controversial 4 turnaround models, instead opting to allow states design their own intervention strategies for low performing schools. The legislation would also discontinue NCLB's school choice and tutoring provisions and does not include using magnet schools as a viable restart option.
The second bill, Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, would eliminate NCLB's current highly qualified teacher requirement, but would mandate teacher evaluation systems that are based on student achievement. These teacher evaluations would be required to use more than two categories to assess teacher performance and must be used for personnel decisions.
This act would also reauthorize the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) making only minor changes to the program. It would, however, limit future funding for the program at current levels.
The new ESEA bills would also eliminate or consolidate 70 existing education programs. To view a chart with the program eliminations click here.