Today, Congress released details of a compromise appropriations bill that would fund the federal government through the remainder of FY2017. The deal, which is expected to pass the Senate and House later this week, cuts education spending by $60 million (not including rescissions to the Pell grant program surplus) from FY2016 levels.
New Leaders is disappointed and concerned that federal lawmakers have proposed reducing education spending, but we are relieved it has rejected more drastic cuts that would have been extremely challenging for the New Leaders community, our partners, and educators and students nationwide.
Of note, Congress has proposed maintaining — at a slightly reduced level — funding for the School Leader Recruitment and Support Program (SLRSP), the only federal program specifically focused on investing in evidence-based, locally-driven strategies to strengthen school leadership in high-need schools. Given the critical role principals play in fostering effective teaching, retaining great teachers, improving student achievement, advancing equity, and achieving the major goals of the Every Student Succeeds Act, we strongly urge lawmakers to listen to stakeholders and their own colleagues by increasing funding for SLRSP in the future.
In addition, while we are pleased Congress has proposed funding the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program (Title II, Part A), we remain concerned about cuts to the program. Title II, Part A provides flexible funding to states, districts, and schools to strengthen teacher and school leader effectiveness and improve student outcomes, especially for low-income children and communities. In addition, beginning in SY2017-18 states will have a new opportunity to invest 3 percent of these funds specifically in developing and supporting principals and school leaders. We hope states and districts can rely on this vital funding source in years ahead to implement their education plans and take advantage of new, more effective opportunities to focus on school leadership.
Moreover, we appreciate that Congress has included funding in the compromise bill for competitive grant programs that have the potential to positively affect school leadership. These programs include the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED), the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program, and the Teacher and School Leader (TSL) grant program. However, we are concerned about proposed cuts and the impact they may have on school leaders and the teachers, students, families, and communities they serve. We hope that funding for these programs can be restored in future years.
Finally, we are pleased lawmakers have funded the Teacher Quality Partnerships (TQP) program at its FY2016 level. We look forward to working with Congress to strengthen the program in a reauthorized Higher Education Act to direct funds toward a wide range of innovative, evidence-based teacher or school leadership programs.
And we look forward to working with Congress to build on this compromise funding bill, which includes an alarming number of cuts to vital programs. We must ensure programs that support our collective goal to get a well-prepared, well-supported principal in every school receive robust funding in FY2018 and beyond.