Working the Hill

Florida NEA Directors discuss education issues with members of Congress

By Kathi Gundlach

Take Action On Education Funding

The Florida NEA Board Of Director members, Calvin Collins, Melondia Corpus, Kathi Gundlach, and George Williams, spent sometime in Washington D.C.his past December, visiting with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Congresswoman Kathy Castor, and Congressman Gus Bilirakis.

 

They were able to speak directly with Representative Castor and Bilirakis and with Tracie Pough, Representative Wasserman-Schultz’s Chief of Staff. The items discussed were: The Dream Act, Education of the Whole Child, Education Funding and the Fiscal Commission Report and recommendations. Concerns of the representatives or their staff centered on the budget, the economy, and jobs. All representatives voiced their concerns about education and funding. All indicated their support for teachers and children, but were unsure of what the session would bring.

 

Contact your Senators and Representatives to let them know how you feel about their support for public education. Ask them to continue to support NEAs policies and recommendations. It is vital that you continue to make your voice heard at the national level. We must remain strong and united to continue the fight to improve public education and ensure that our members continue to be served by our organization.

 

Florida NEA Board of Directors: Calvin Collins Melondia Corpus Kathi Gundlach George L. Williams

 

 

Take Action On Education Funding

 

Tell Congress to Support Education Funding for Great Public Schools

 

What if some of our most effective education programs were slashed at a time when kids needed them most? Or, what if we didn’t have money to create and foster new programs that were vital to our children’s future? Both of these scenarios are possible, since funding for education programs is at stake once again.
The U.S. Senate will vote on legislation to determine funding levels for federal education programs affecting all our children, from birth to college.
 

Tell your senator to support education funding.

We must continue to vigorously support education programs that benefit our kids and schools!

Contact your senator now. Tell him or her to vote for a year-end spending bill that helps our children get the high-quality education they deserve.

 

NEA's priorities for eduction funding including:

  • Funding critical programs such as Title I, Title II, and School Improvement Grants at the levels necessary to ensure great public schools for every child, including increasing Title I by $3 billion (from $13.9 billion to $16.9 billion) and putting it on a path to be doubled in funding over five years.

  • Increasing funding for IDEA special education by $2.3 billion (from $10.9 billion to $13.2 billion). This increase would raise the federal share of special education costs from 17 to 20 percent.

  • Significantly increasing the funding for Pell Grants and career and technical education programs to train our workforce to deal with the realities of the 21st Century, including increasing the Pell Grant maximum to $5,100 (from $4,310).

  • Rejecting any efforts to divert scarce resources to private school vouchers;

  • Limiting funding for the unauthorized Teacher Incentive Fund so that funds can instead be targeted to Title II Teacher Quality State grants. This will allow all states, rather than just a few select districts, to increase investments in teacher quality.

 Congressional/ Senate Omnibus Provisions of Interest

 

Title I (Education for the Disadvantaged)—The bill includes $14.8 billion for title I grants to local education agencies—a $290 million increase—for improving education for low-income students. These funds provide support to more than 90 percent of the Nation’s 15,000 school districts—an important contribution given the reductions to education spending by State and local governments.

 

Early Learning Challenge Fund—The bill includes $300 million for a new Early Learning Challenge Fund that will provide competitive grants to States to raise the bar for early childhood programs. High-quality early learning programs help children develop the cognitive, social, and emotional skills needed to succeed in school and later in life. Yet quality varies greatly across settings, within States, and across the Nation. The new fund will encourage States to coordinate quality improvement activities across early learning settings, including child care, Head Start and pre-kindergarten programs; expand the number of low-income children in high-quality programs; and ensure that more children enter kindergarten ready to succeed.

 

Refugee Social Services—Refugee Social Services supports a variety of employment and support services to address barriers to employment for newly arrived refugees. The bill provides an increase of $15 million for this activity, for a total of $169 million.

 

Special Education—The bill provides $11.8 billion under section 611of IDEA Part B grants to States for educating students with disabilities. This amount is $290 million more than the fiscal year 2010 level.

 

Extended Learning Time—A growing body of evidence suggests that students benefit academically from a longer school day and a longer school year. The bill includes a change allowing local districts, if they choose, to use 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants to help establish or expand extended learning time activities, and to support a more systemic restructuring of the school year in cooperation with community partners. The bill includes an increase of $135 million for the 21st Century program, for a total of $1.3 billion.

 

Race to the Top—The bill includes $550 million for the administration’s signature education reform program. Race to the Top was created in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act but has not yet been funded in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill.

 

Investing in Innovation—The bill includes $224 million to replicate programs that have high levels of effectiveness as established under rigorous research and to develop and test promising new ideas. Like Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation was created in the Recovery Act but has not yet been funded in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill.

 

Child Care—The bill provides $2.8 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), an increase of $681 million over last year. The CCDBG supports child care subsidies to low-income working families, as well as quality improvement activities in child care programs across the country. This increase will provide subsidies for 100,000 low-income children and their working families.

 

Head Start—The bill provides $8.1 billion for Head Start, an increase of $840 million over last year. This will allow Head Start programs to provide comprehensive early childhood development services to 978,000 low-income children, and maintain increases in families served because of Recovery Act funding in fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

 

Workforce Innovation Funds—The bill includes a total of $217 million for Workforce Innovation Funds that will reform the Nation’s workforce investment system by improving the delivery of education and training programs to workers. These funds, to be administered jointly by the Departments of Labor and Education, will encourage States and local areas to develop workforce development strategies that assess the needs of employers and workers across broader, more cohesive economic regions and facilitate development of a workforce that reflects the specific set of skills needed in those communities.

 

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