Washington, D.C. – Earlier this week, the House subcommittee responsible for funding federal education programs released their FY2018 spending bill. Their proposal calls for a $2.4 billion cut in funding the U.S. Department of Education compared to FY2017 spending levels. Such sharp cuts would jeopardize vital programs that benefit students across the country.
New Leaders is particularly concerned that the House subcommittee has proposed eliminating the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program (Title II, Part A). That program currently provides states, districts, and schools with $2.055 billion in flexible funding to strengthen teacher and school leader effectiveness and improve student outcomes, with a focus on investing in evidence-based strategies to support children living in poverty. This funding is used by ninety-eight percent of school districts nationwide and is a critical support for schools.
In addition to pinching already tight school budgets, eliminating Title II, Part A funding will prevent states from taking advantage of a new, optional set-aside that allows states to invest in the development and support of principals and school leaders. States are recognizing that school leadership – which has historically been overlooked and underfunded – is central to improving schools and ensuring that all students get an excellent education. They want this flexibility– six states that submitted plans to the U.S. Department of Education in April and another fourteen states with draft plans indicated that they intend to use this set-aside to make meaningful, cross-cutting investments in school leadership.
In addition, losing these vital financial resources risks increased teacher and principal turnover, which would exacerbate talent shortages and achievement gaps. Ultimately, these dramatic cuts will make it more difficult for educators to prepare all young people for success.
As the FY2018 appropriations process moves forward, we strongly urge Congress to maintain or increase funding for critical investments in our nation’s schools and school leaders — and, thereby, in the teachers, students, families, and communities they serve.