Legislative Update: Appropriators Provide Boost for Federal Education Programs

ESSA Title IVA and Title II See Increases for FY2020 Programs

Earlier this week the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee for Education met to mark up their FY2020 annual spending bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The Democratic-controlled subcommittee ignored the Administration’s proposals to eliminate key programs  (ESSA Title IVA, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants; ESSA Title II, Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants; and ESSA 21st Century Community Learning Centers program) and instead provided a six percent funding increase for Department of Education programs.

Overall, the subcommittee provided $75.9 billion for the Department of Education, an $11.9 billion increase above the President’s budget request. Highlights include:

  • $500 million increase for Title II state grants, the only dedicated funding for teacher professional development for many States and districts, to a total of $2.55 billion;
  • $150 million increase for Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants for a total of $1.3 billion;  
  • $100 million increase for 21st Century Community Learning Center program which supports before school, afterschool and summer learning programs, for a total of $1.32 billion;
  • $1 billion increase for IDEA State grants to a total $13.4 billion;
  • $1 billion increase for Title I grants to a total $16.859 billion;
  • $300 million for the Education Innovation Research program, with $125 million devoted to STEM and Computer Science.

The bill also requests an additional $13 million for grants to improve the effectiveness of CTE programs in STEM areas, “particularly computer science,” and an extra $60 million to support state-level “pre-apprenticeship” programs.

Appropriators are also seeking $260 million for a Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Initiative to support SEL and “whole child” approaches to education. Within this amount, support would be provided for research that addresses  student social, emotional, and cognitive needs; teacher professional development in child development and learning, including skills for implementing SEL strategies; a program to make schools safer through a new competition that will help districts to increase the number of mental health and child development experts in schools; and funds to provide comprehensive services and expand evidence-based models that meet the holistic needs of children, families, and communities.

In a press statement signed by NSTA, the Title IV-A Coalition says it is “extremely grateful to the House LHHS-Education Subcommittee for the proposed $1.32 billion, an increase of $150 million over the enacted FY19 level, for the bipartisan Student Support and Academic Enrichment block grant program. We are thankful that House appropriators have once again recognized the importance of this flexible funding stream, which at this level of funding, will continue to allow districts to meaningfully invest in all three areas that the program supports: safe and healthy students, well-rounded education, and the effective use of technology. Building on the past two years of strong investments in Title IV-A, we are excited about the ongoing opportunity for states and districts to maintain and expand the critical programs and educational services they have been able to support using these funds.”

The bill was sent to the full House Appropriations Committee, which is expected to approve it next week, before it heads to the (Republican-controlled) Senate.  Stay tuned.

Climate Literacy, Education Bill is Introduced in House of Representatives

 On Earth Day, Congresswomen Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Julia Brownley (D-CA) introduced The Climate Change Education Act (H.R.2349). The bill authorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish a Climate Education Program office and administer a grant program which would promote climate literacy by broadening students’ and educators understanding of climate change, the consequences of climate change, and potential solutions. It authorizes $20 million a year from 2020 to 2025. Read the bill here

Toolkit on ESSA Funding for Science and STEM Now Available

The Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS) has posted a new resource that educators can use to better understand and access federal funds under two US Department of Education programs—ESSA Title II and Title IVA.

The CS3 ESSA Title II and IV Toolkit explains these ESSA grant programs and points to actions that state and district leaders and lead teachers can take to use this funding to support high quality science education for educators as well as students.

ESSA Title II (Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, and Other School Leaders Grants) allow districts and states to fund teacher professional development.  Districts can also use this funding to provide stipends to recruit STEM teachers, and support generalists (like elementary teachers) who integrate more STEM into their classrooms.

ESSA Title IVA (Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants) will allow districts to provide students with a well-rounded education and improve instruction and student engagement in STEM by:

  • Expanding high-quality STEM courses;
  • Increasing access to STEM for underserved and at risk student populations;
  • Supporting the participation of students in STEM nonprofit competitions (such as robotics, science research, invention, mathematics, computer science, and technology competitions);
  • Providing hands-on learning opportunities in STEM;
  • Integrating other academic subjects, including the arts, into STEM subject programs;
  • Creating or enhancing STEM specialty schools;
  • Integrating classroom based and afterschool and informal STEM instruction; and
  • Expanding environmental education.

Also check out the resources NSTA has available on ESSA 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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