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Focusing on Federal Formula Programs

 

Focusing on Federal Formula Programs

by Dan Domenech, AASA executive director

AASA is very engaged in federal appropriations work. Congress has been working to resolve the major differences in each chamber’s respective budget proposal for FY14. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 would restore 87 percent of the sequester cuts for FY14, the funds that will be in schools for the 2014-15 school year. This represents a significant improvement over the current funding level, which provides federal education funding levels that are pre-2004.

As Congress finalized its vote, AASA was pleased to partner with four other national education organizations—the American Federation of Teachers, the Council of Great City Schools, the National Education Association and the National School Boards Association—to send a joint letter to Congress regarding the FY14 appropriations. Collectively, our groups raised our voices “… to convey the importance of concentrating the limited federal dollars on the programs that have the biggest impact on school district budgets and at-risk students. Budget recommendations and appropriations have shortchanged critical K-12 education programs for too many years. It is time to reaffirm the federal government’s commitment to equity and excellence through programs that best address the needs of the nation’s public schools and neediest students. We look forward to working with you to complete a robust FY14 Education appropriations bill that courageously returns the focus of federal education investment to Title I and IDEA.”

Looking to reiterate the importance of focusing on formula programs, we also collaborated on a second letter. Working with the Association of Educational Service Agencies, the National Rural Education Association and National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition, this letter also emphasized the importance of prioritizing formula programs, with the added nuance of the distinctly disproportionate impact that federal dollars—and related policy changes, whether cuts of sequestration or funding competitive grants—have in rural schools.

The House has already adjourned for the holiday recess. As the Senate looks to head home shortly as well, now is a great time to meet with your Congressional delegation while they are home. Make a call or send a letter letting them know the importance of not only investing in education, but in ensuring that those dollars are focused on and invested in key formula programs: Title I and IDEA. Should you have any questions about contacting your Congressional delegation, reach out to our advocacy team, either Noelle or Sasha. They can give you the name and contact information, along with any suggested talking points!