On Tuesday, June 12, the Senate Labor, Health & Human Services, Education Appropriation Subcommittee plans to mark up their Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 appropriations bill. The full Senate Appropriations Committee is set to vote Thursday, June 14 on the bill.
The Senate set the overall funding allocation for this appropriations bill at $157.7 billion, a $1.4 billion (or 1 percent) increase from the allocation in FY 2012. Under President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request, released in February, the Department of Education received a 2.5 percent increase in funding. This increase went largely toward Race to the Top and new initiatives to improve college affordability. While the president’s budget request serves as only a framework from which to work, the Democrat-controlled Senate is likely to support many of the president's education priorities. The Senate has not yet taken up any FY 2013 bills.
NAESP continues to monitor formula-funded programs, including IDEA and Title I. President Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposal would bring the federal contribution of the national average IDEA per pupil expenditure to just 15.8 percent, far below the promised level of federal support for IDEA when it first became law. Further, the president’s budget proposes to consolidate 38 programs into nine new funding streams, which NAESP believes could reduce services for students as these programs are terminated (See Budget Chart: U.S. Department of Education Programs Proposed for Consolidation in President’s FY 2013 budget.)
In a move NAESP opposes, the Senate Appropriations Committee may allow teachers enrolled in an alternative certification program to be identified as “highly qualified” under No Child Left Behind, even while they undergo training. The “highly qualified teacher” definition was altered following the passage of the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution bill, which extended funding to keep the federal government running. Students, especially in low-achieving schools, deserve well-prepared and experienced teachers that have met research-based standards of effective teaching. Uncertified teachers are largely concentrated in low-income, underperforming schools, and fail to close achievement gaps. Changing the federal definition of a “highly qualified teacher” should happen only after robust debate during the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, not through an annual appropriations bill.
NAESP will continue to monitor the FY 2013 budget process and provide updates.