NSTA Legislative Update: Congress Passes Funding for FY20 Federal Programs by Jodi Peterson

Prior to adjourning for the holidays Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the spending bill that funds the government for the remainder of fiscal 2020.

The bill largely rejects the Trump administration’s proposal to cut approximately $7 billion in education spending and eliminate 29 programs, including Title IVA and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Instead it includes $72.8 billion in funding for the Department of Education, an increase of $1.3 billion compared to previous fiscal years.

Some good news for science and STEM education programs funded through ESSA; the bill provides:

  • $2.1 billion for Title II Supporting Effective Instruction State grants, an increase of $76 million; this program provides much-needed funding for teacher professional learning.
  • $1.2 billion for Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, a $40 million increase, which supports a wide range of activities including STEM programs and school safety activities.
  • $1.3 billion for Career and Technical Education Grants, level with FY2019.
  • 25 billion for 21stCentury Community Learning Centers to support academic enrichment activities for students before school, after school, and during the summer, an increase of $28 million.
  • $65 million in dedicated STEM education funding within the Education Innovation and Research program, a $5 million increase, including a specific prioritization on computer science education.

In addition, the bill provides funding increases across the board for these programs:

  • $16.3 billion for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies, an increase of $450 million.
  • $13.6 billion for IDEA/Special Education grants to states, an increase of $410 million, including preschool grants and grants for infants and families.
  • $1.5 billion for Impact Aid, an increase of $40 million.
  • $$440 million for the Charter Schools Program, the same as the FY2019 enacted level, including a $5 million increase for grants to replicate and expand high-quality charter school models and a $5 million increase for charter school facility grants.
  • $105 million for Safe Schools National Activities, an increase of $10 million, which supports evidence-based activities to improve school safety, prevent violence, and improve school climates.

The maximum Pell Grant award under the bill would be increased by $150, an increase of more than 2 percent from $6,195 to $6,345 for the 2020-21 school year.

More details on the bill can be found here.

STEM Bills at the State Level

Interested in what your state legislature is doing with science and STEM education? Check out this list from our colleagues at the STEM Education Coalition which contains every state-level STEM education bill that has been introduced, considered, or adopted in state legislatures over the past 4 years.

Education Freedom Scholarships in 2020?

Also before the holiday break, the White House convened a roundtable discussion to highlight state-based school choice programs and promote the administration’s Education Freedom Scholarships initiative.

This year the Administration hopes to jump start its proposal for a $5 billion federal tax credit for donations to scholarship-granting organizations to pay for students to attend private schools or expand their public education options. The bills in the House ( H.R. 1434 (116) and the Senate  S. 634 (116) have seen no action and have little support from Democrats. Conservative groups, such as the Heritage Foundation, while praising the theory of school choice believe this type of bill “undermines conservative efforts to streamline the federal tax code.”

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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