Learning Forward Advocacy
November 1, 2019
One month after fiscal year 2020 began, federal education funding remains stalled in the Senate. Despite the full House approving over the summer its version of fiscal year 2020 Labor HHS Education funding, which included a $500 million increase for the Title II-A professional development grant program, the Senate has been unable to make progress on its version of this bill. In September, Senate Republicans unveiled their version of fiscal year 2020 Labor HHS Education funding that would provide almost no funding increases for education programs, including Title II-A. Twice in the past two months (including once this week), Senate Republicans attempted to move this bill to the Senate floor for debate and passage but lost procedural votes to do so as all Democrats opposed this effort. There are multiple reasons that Senate Democrats have opposed moving forward with this bill:
- Despite a budget deal that increased overall federal funding levels, Senate Republican leaders accorded relatively little additional money to the fiscal year 2020 Labor HHS Education funding bill, leaving few dollars for the Senate to make new investments in key education programs like Title II-A.
- One of the reasons that the Senate’s Labor HHS Education bill received such a low allocation is that Senate Republican leaders sent a significant chunk of the new money made available through the budget deal to a different funding bill to be used to build the controversial southern border wall. Democrats are unwilling to support that priority and thus have opposed moving forward on many of the twelve annual appropriations bills, including the Labor HHS Education bill.
- Of the limited additional dollars that the Labor HHS Education bill received, Senate Republicans opted to invest in a $3 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health, leaving almost no other funds for increases in other parts of the bill, including education.
With this bill and several others stuck in the Senate, Congress approved and the President signed in September a Continuing Resolution (CR), a temporary spending measure, that allows the government to continue to operate at last year’s spending levels between October 1 and November 21. Now, less than three weeks from when this CR expires, most federal funding bills have not progressed. Congress now faces passing another CR to give it more time to finish its work on the remaining spending bills. But with both sides dug-in, completing work on these bills appears difficult if not impossible. Additionally, if the President fails to agree to another CR, those parts of the federal government – including the Department of Education – would shut down on November 22.
Another more troubling scenario is also being discussed: Congress passing a full-year CR for 2020. This would allow Democrats to claim victory by preventing the President from building a southern border wall that they oppose. However, it would also ensure a freeze on most domestic discretionary programs, including education programs. This would mean that the House’s $500 million increase for Title II-A would evaporate and that school districts would go another year without additional funding for professional development.
Learning Forward, allied with its education partners, continues to push for a higher allocation of dollars for the Labor HHS Education bill. This would provide sufficient money for Senate Appropriators to make additional investments in key education programs such as Title II-A. We are continuing to meet with Senate leaders to seek that higher allocation number but could use your help.
Please call, write, tweet or otherwise communicate with your Senators that you support a higher allocation to the fiscal year 2020 Labor HHS Education Appropriations bill. Without a higher allocation, school districts will continue to have only the same amount of money available for professional development that they had more than 10 years ago. And that money does not go far as it did in 2010, meaning that America’s educators will have fewer academic specialists, coaches, mentors and professional development courses available to them with each new school year.
LEARNING FORWARD CAPITOL HILL BRIEFING:
Addressing Equity in Teaching Through Professional Learning
Click here to download the Capitol Hill Briefing PPT slides.
All of America’s teachers need access to high-quality professional learning and support to address students’ cultural contexts, social-emotional development and an ability to engage with demanding academic content. All too often, the teachers of the students who need the most support are in schools with the most limited resources for professional learning. We can turn the tide by providing ongoing, collaborative and job-embedded professional learning for all teachers and leaders.
Hear from the field about the challenges schools and districts are facing, how they have intervened with professional learning and what the impact has been. Specifically, this panel focused on how Title II-A supported initiatives are making a difference in recruiting and retaining teachers and leaders and increasing student achievement.
Evidence, evidence, evidence
Evidence of impact is not optional. From your ESSA plans to Title II to talking with your district superintendent, everyone wants to know when professional development is making an impact and how you know. Learning Forward is here to help. We invite you to join your peers from across the U.S. to share your successes here.
Tell us what Title II funds in your school or district, and most important, what outcomes you see as a result. Outcomes might include improved graduation rates or assessment scores, improvements for specific populations of students, or other indicators that students are experiencing more meaningful learning.
A New Vision For Professional Learning: A Toolkit to Help
States Use ESSA to Advance Learning and ImprovementSystems. This toolkit helps leaders leverage professional learning as
an essential tool in overcoming systemic inequities and guaranteeing
excellence for all.
Agents for Learning Toolkit: A Guide to Amplifying Teacher
Voice and Stakeholder Engagement. This toolkit suggests ways to cultivate teacher voice and agency in policy decisions and the implementation of professional learning.
Webinar series: Speak up for Title II
Learning Forward hosted a series of advocacy webinars designed to help educators build their advocacy skills. Each free webinar provides background information, the legislative status of Title II, and offers practical steps for how you can engage in this critical fight.
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What people are saying
I love the emphasis on advocacy for our field – the sample templates Learning Forward shares to communicate with state reps regarding policy, the up-to-date info about policy and legislation that could impact our field. I also really appreciate that Learning Forward is the standard-bearer for professional learning standards and provides a framework that supports calibrated understanding of quality and how to strive for it. — Rhonda