September 13, 2016 by

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

By Megan Wolfe

TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Representative to Invest in Well-Rounded Programs!Congress is set to make some crucial spending decisions in the next few weeks that will have a big influence on education programs next year and could affect funding levels for years to come. Just maintaining existing funding for education has become increasingly difficult, and the soon-to-be final FY17 spending levels for the programs in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will set a new baseline for federal investments in education for as long as ESSA is the law of the land. Now that the more educator-friendly ESSA is in place, educators need to speak out to hold lawmakers accountable for providing funding for the resources necessary to help students succeed in school and after graduation. ASCD is asking educators to take a couple of minutes and tell federal lawmakers to fund the programs and goals they voted for in ESSA.

Why is this so important? And why now? The new ESSA consolidated many of the competitive grant programs that supported a well-rounded education—like Arts in Education and the Carol M. White Physical Education Program—into a block grant called the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) program. Tucked within Title IV of the new law, SSAE is supposed to provide funding for every school district in the country to create and sustain safe and healthy learning environments, provide access to a well-rounded education, and improve the effective use of technology in schools. (You can learn more about Title IV by viewing our recent ESSA webinar, “Meeting Students’ Needs Through Title IV,” and checking out our “Title VI and School Health” FAQ.) SSAE is a formula-based program designed to give every school district in the country the flexibility to invest in a broad array of activities to enrich students’ educational experiences. It will require robust funding to support a meaningful set of activities—much more than was needed for the smaller list of targeted competitive grant programs it replaces.

These are critically important activities, and they are fundamental to a student’s comprehensive success.

ESSA set a target funding level of $1.65 billion. The president only sought $500 million for the program, and the Senate wants to provide only $300 million; the House, however, would provide a much higher allocation of $1 billion. We need your help to tell lawmakers in D.C. how essential these programs are to students and how important it is to provide the maximum amount possible ($1.65 billion). Since FY17 is the inaugural year of SSAE, the initial funding level will essentially lock in future spending amounts. A low figure will deny districts the necessary resources to invest in the full range of well-rounded education programs that are so important to student success.

We’ve made it easy to make your voice heard. Just click here to access ASCD’s action alert portal where a prewritten e-mail is waiting to be sent to your federal lawmakers. Take action now and be sure to share this blog post and action alert link widely among your colleagues!

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Megan Wolfe has served as ASCD’s government relations manager since joining the association in 2011. She helps to raise ASCD’s visibility with federal lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill, particularly with regard to ASCD’s legislative agenda and whole child approach to education.