EDUCATION WATCH–UPDATE ON FUNDING
It is important to mention a few facts about ESSA (Every Student Success Act), launched three years ago by the NEA (National Education Association) as a new and impactful way for educators to motivate and teach. Two years ago, President Obama signed it into law, replacing the disastrous “No Child Left Behind” law of then President George Bush, which mandated countless hours of testing at all levels of public education.
At its core, ESSA is about student and educator improvement, which doesn’t come from the top down, but from the bottom up. It requires policymakers to listen to all the stakeholders in a child’s education, which has long been absent from the educational arena. It has given community leaders, educators, districts, and parents the crucial chance to weigh in on state and district implementation plans, successful new ways to put the joy back into learning, teaching, and the reduction of test stress. Purposeful strides on the promising horizon of ESSA were just beginning to be implemented when funding disaster struck.
On August 6, 2017, the Republican majority of the “House Appropriations Committee” approved a spending bill for the 2018-19 school year that provided zero dollars for educators’ professional development, and the recruitment, mentoring, and additional hiring of education personnel to reduce ever-increasing class size, all provided under ESSA’S Title II, Part A. This spending bill sees a 2.5 billion dollar decrease in overall funding for ESSA programs and is a clear message that House Republicans absolutely devalue educators’ opportunities for professional growth.
However, the House did reject the Trump/DeVos budget plan to siphon $1billion from Title I, part A, for their $250 million proposal to create a new voucher program, which at its heart and soul, is an attempt to defund public education. In all, this bill cuts educational funding by $2.4 billion, effectively eliminating, or slashing to bare minimums, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and providing after school services to students most in need of them. These are programs that could easily be the difference between active, vibrant learning experiences and possible future acts of senseless violence. It also fails to increase funding for Title I in its entirety, despite record numbers of low-income students in dire need of these services.
The consequences? If enacted into Law, in its totality, this proposed funding budget desemates opportunities for millions of students; will see the loss of nearly 8,500 educators in all job descriptions; will cut funds across the board for the much-needed Title II services (ie., special education programs, adapted programs for the physically challenged, ESL services, and more), shifting costs to states and school districts, neither of which has a dime to spare; and, parents will see a rise in their children’s class sizes, reducing individual teacher-time with students.
On a final note, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, has weighed in on this crisis. He cites that these proposed budget cuts will take $1 trillion from programs at the heart of our nation’s “safety net”, including eliminating $600 billion from Medicaid and cutting funding for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Programs, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – ALL a vital lifeline for millions of children, the elderly, low-income, and disabled people throughout Illinois AND the nation.
Senator Durbin stands on his record of considering budget proposals that seek to provide the high-quality education system that America deserves!
( Senator Durbin’s information gotten from a letter he sent to me in response to registering one of my complaints about what was transpiring in this education funding debaucle.)
Sandy Hill, Chairperson