This article was updated on July 17 to include comments from the National Association of State Boards of Education.
The House subcommittee that oversees spending by the U.S. Department of Education has approved an appropriations bill for fiscal 2018 that would increase funding for modernizing classrooms with technology but would eliminate Title II funding for teacher training.
The Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies advanced the bill Thursday following its release the day before by the full House Appropriations Committee. The bill proposed more funding than originally sought by the White House, but left education advocates concerned about what funding cutbacks would mean for many educators.
Subcommittee members approved $66 billion in funding for Education Department programs in fiscal 2018, which starts Oct. 1. That’s down $2.4 billion from the funding approved for the current fiscal year, but substantially more than the $59 billion first proposed by the Trump administration in March.
“The bill eliminates several duplicative or ineffective education programs, and makes reductions to several other lower-priority programs,” a statement on the House Appropriations Committee site says.
The bill would increase funding for Title IV by $100 million, bringing it to a total of $500 million and ignoring President Donald Trump’s proposal to scrap it entirely. Title IV block grants fund a range of school programs, including many related to educational technology.
Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), praised the additional $100 million in funding for Title IV but said it doesn’t go far enough.
“While this is an encouraging step, the proposed funding is only a portion of what is needed to ensure robust investment in modernizing America’s learning environments,” Krueger said in a statement. “Too many students and schools nationwide do not have adequate 21st century resources to succeed. That should not be the case.”
Many state and federal edtech associations immediately objected to the House committee’s decision to eliminate Title II funding, saying they were disappointed in the members’ decision.
“State education chiefs recognize we can always improve on how state and federal funds are spent, but cutting these funds to zero wouldn’t allow for an opportunity to improve how we spend those dollars and would turn our back on the commitments we have made to teachers and students,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
Krueger weighed in on the $2 billion loss in Title II funding: “We are also disappointed by the bill’s elimination of funding for Title II in the Every Student Succeeds Act,” he said. “These funds directly support and enable professional learning opportunities for educators and school leaders.”
The loss of funding for ESSA is also a main concern for those at the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). In a statement, NASBE President and CEO Kristen Amundson expressed doubts about the future of ESSA under the House spending bill.
“At a time when states are on the cusp of real improvement in their education systems under ESSA, continued support for strong professional learning for teachers and leaders is critical,” Amundson said. “Ensuring that every student experiences high-quality teaching and that every teacher is supported by a skilled school leader are linchpins to ESSA’s success.
“A loss of $2 billion in Title II funds jeopardizes state leaders’ ability to realize the promise of ESSA to advance equity and excellence,” she added. “… Many of our members have expressed serious concern about reduced federal funding to support teachers and leaders. “
Krueger, and other leaders in innovative education, urged the full Congress to continue discussions on the 2018 budget and consider including more funding for Title IV and Title II.
“These investments are a commitment to the future of our students and country,” Krueger said.
The full Appropriations Committee will consider the bill on July 19.