Support Increased Education Funding in LHHS-ED

Categories: Advocacy Letter

Recipient: U.S. Senate

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition with more than 180 national organizations, we urge you to support amendments that increase funding in S. 1356, the FY 2004 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill (LHHS-ED) and oppose any across-the-board cuts that could decrease funding to many critical education programs.

As states face the worst fiscal crisis in years, and as a result are making cuts at all levels of education funding, amendments to increase funding for S. 1356 are crucial to the success of our nation’s schools. The current proposal barely maintains funding at current levels, fails to provide for the increasing costs of complying with federal responsibilities, and falls far below the enrollment growth of our nation’s neediest schools. Overall, S. 1356 falls $1.5 billion short of the $3 billion promised increase for education in the FY04 budget resolution and would provide the lowest increase in education funding in eight years.

The following amendments would increase funding to vital education programs:

The Byrd amendment to increase Title I funding by $6.15 billion.

The amendment would bring Title I funding to the $18.5 billion authorized for FY 2004 in the No Child Left Behind Act. The 8,652 schools that the Department of Education recently cited as “in need of improvement” will require increased resources. Providing the authorized funding level will allow services to more low-income children, expansion of the range of services, and an increase in high-poverty schools receiving funding.

The Dodd/Jeffords amendment to increase funding for IDEA by $1.2 billion.

The amendment would bring funding to $2.2 billion ? the level promised in the budget resolution – and would put IDEA on a six-year path to the 40 percent federal share of funding first promised in 1975. Current funding falls far short of the federal government’s commitment. Failure to fully fund IDEA places considerable strain on the entire school budget. Efforts to improve student achievement through implementation of higher standards and other discretionary educational reforms often must take a back seat to the provision of mandatory IDEA services. This is particularly true as states face mounting budget pressures and financial shortfalls, necessitating cuts in discretionary services.

The Reid/Bingaman amendment to increase funding for Hispanic education by $210 million.

The amendment would provide $210 million in funding over the S. 1356 amount for programs with the potential to improve the educational achievement and attainment of Hispanic students. When the Appropriations Committee approved S. 1356, many programs with a strong track record of improving educational outcomes for Hispanic children were eliminated or significantly reduced. Others, which are experiencing greatly increased demands for services, were level funded. The amendment would restore and expand funds for these programs and includes offsets. Thus, it would not increase the level of appropriations for the overall bill. The amendment would provide much needed resources for critical programs such as dropout prevention, bilingual education, and migrant education. These programs are even more essential as schools work to help all students meet the highest academic standards.

Again, we urge you to support amendments to S. 1356 that increase education funding, but not at the expense of other vital education programs. Votes related to this issue may also be included in LCCR’s voting record for the first session of the 108th Congress. If you have any questions or need further information, please contact Nancy Zirkin, LCCR Deputy Director/Director of Public Policy at (202) 263-2880.

Sincerely,



Wade Henderson
Executive Director

Nancy Zirkin
Deputy Director

William Taylor
Vice Chair