House legislation would slash education funding

(Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

A coalition of 112 national education associations and institutions representing birth to postgraduate education is protesting the section of Republican-backed legislation in the House that would slash federal education funding as part of reshaping the No Child Left Behind law.

The Committee for Education Funding said in a letter to lawmakers that the legislation, which passed in the  House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and is expected to pass the House soon, sets funding authorization for 2014 and five succeeding years at $22.85 billion. That is the aggregate 2013 funding after the sequester that forced automatic across-the-board budget cuts because Republicans and Democrats could not compromise on how to reduce the national deficit. That means, the committee says, that nearly $1.3 billion in cuts that were made compared to 2012 levels would become permanent if the bill were to become law.

The committee letter said that the cuts

have come at a time when enrollments have increased, more children are living in poverty and schools and students have endured deep state and local budget cuts. Enough is enough! It’s time for Congress to reject these draconian cuts and replace the sequester with a balanced package of deficit reduction. Solving our nation’s fiscal situation and reducing the debt can’t and won’t happen simply by slashing education.

This approach to funding is different from the GOP legislation in the House on the National Defense Authorization Act, which set authorization levels for the military at pre-sequester levels.

Though the GOP education bill is not expected to become law, given that the Democratic-led Senate has very different legislation aimed at rewriting the No Child Left Behind law, critics are going full force to oppose it.

The GOP legislation would not only cut federal funding but also the federal role in K-12 education, a departure from the path that began when former president George W. Bush pushed through his signature education law, No Child Left Behind, more than a dozen years ago. NCLB started an era of high-stakes testing in which the federal government played a prominent role.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | July 16, 2013