Legislative Update: Congress Passes FY2019 Education Spending Package

Congress has passed an appropriations bill for the FY2019 Department of Education and other education and labor programs and President Trump signed the bill on September 28, averting a government shutdown that would have occurred on midnight, September 30. The bill provides funding for key domestic and military programs and will allow educators to start planning programs for FY2019. The bill the President signed also includes a continuing resolution which funds other federal programs at current levels through December 7.  Read more here and check out the STEM Education Coalition’s list of federal funding for a number of federal ed programs.


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos this week approved Florida’s plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Every state has now earned federal approval for their plans. Florida originally submitted their plan for federal review last fall; the initial plan sought to maintain the accountability plan developed under Governor Jeb Bush that graded schools on an A-F scale.  The state was requested to submit a revised plan that included how the state would better identify identify low performing schools

Also last week, during a hearing on ESSA in the Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee, Senate Democrats questioned whether states are sufficiently tracking and holding schools accountable for the performance of certain groups of students,

Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the chairman of the committee, sparred over whether they believe Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has approved state’s ESSA accountability plans even though the plans may not adequately track English language learners, students with disabilities, low-income students and minority students.

“Democrats voted for this law — in part — because of these requirements to ensure equity,” Senator Murray said during the hearing. “Yet they are being disregarded by this administration.”

Sen. Alexander said he believes DeVos has followed the law in her approval of state education plans, and that he and Senator Murray “have a difference of opinion in reading the law.”

And finally, last week NSTA co sponsored a briefing on Capitol Hill for congressional staff on the ways in which states and districts are using the federal funding through the Every Student Succeeds Acts Title IV, Part A Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program to support science and STEM education and other “well-rounded” education activities. 

Robert Holm, IT Director for the McKinley STEM High School in DC, joined that panel to discuss options to use Title IVA for STEM.  More here.

Stay tuned, and watch for more updates in future issues of NSTA Express.

Jodi Peterson is the Assistant Executive Director of Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at jpeterson@nsta.org or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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1 Response to Legislative Update: Congress Passes FY2019 Education Spending Package

  1. Gail says:

    Throughout my teaching career I’ve utilized nature and other environments to make connections, further engage students and inspire them that they too can make a difference in issues today. It is important to get students excited and on board with science experiments. Teachers are competing with automation, however its crucial to understand what needs to be taught and how.

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