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Senate Spending Bill Keeps Teacher Grant, Ignores DeVos Choice Proposal

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Washington

UPDATED

The Senate bill funding the U.S. Department of Education for fiscal 2019 provides increases for disadvantaged students, special education programs, and a block grant supporting a diverse set of K-12 priorities.

It also maintains grants for educator development and after-school aid at current funding levels, and rejects a school choice initiative from the Trump administration. It's the second year in a row that both the Senate and House have nixed efforts by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to create new choice programs funded by the education department. 

Total discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of Education would increase by $540 million, up to nearly $71.6 billion,. That would represent a record-high at the department (not accounting for inflation). 

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the chairman of the Senate subcommittee for education appropriations who introduced the bill, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the subcommittee's top Democrat, both said the legislation was the result of hard work and productive negotiations.

"It's a bill that we found a lot to agree on," Blunt said.

The subcommittee sent the legislation to the full Senate appropriations subcommittee for consideration down the road.

Here are some key points from the legislation:

  • Title I, which provides formula-based grants to districts for educating disadvantaged children, would get a $125 million increase, bringing total funding to $15.9 billion. 
  • Title II, which supports professional development and salaries for teachers and principals, gets level funding at $2.1 billion. The Trump administration has sought to eliminate this program. 
  • The bill provides $13.3 billion for special education, including a $125 million increase in grants to states.
  • Title IV, a block grant which districts can use to support things like student health and education technology, gets $1.2 billion, a $125 million increase, under the bill.
  • Federal charter school grants would get a $45 million increase, bringing total funding to $445 million for fiscal 2019.
  • Career and technical education grants are level funded, receiving $1.2 billion in the fiscal 2019 bill.
  • Funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which support after-school programs, are level funded at $1.2 billion.
  • School Safety and Safe Learning Environments get a $5 million boost up to $95 million in the proposal. 
  • The office for civil rights gets an $8 million boost, up to $125 million, in the bill. 
  • Evidence-based programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) receive a $15 million increase in the legislation, up to $65 million. 

The bill does not fund Opportunity Grants, a $1 billion proposal from the Trump administration to support public and private school choice.

Several smaller cuts proposed by the Trump administration, such as eliminating the Comprehensive Literacy program, are also not included in the bill. (Comprehensive Literacy grants, for example, are level funded at $190 million).

The House appropriations subcommittee overseeing education funding introduced its bill earlier this month. That bill also rejected the Trump push for major cuts to the department and the school choice proposal. 


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