Today President Barack Obama signs into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a landmark $787 billion stimulus package that includes an unprecedented investment in children and schools.
Congressional leaders worked at legislative warp speed last week to iron out their differences and expedite the bill’s passage. Although the economic stimulus package includes less funding for education than what the U.S. House called for, it contains more than what the Senate included in its version of the legislation. Ultimately, the ARRA provides
- $13 billion for Title I ($10 billion for state grants and $3 billion for school improvement)
- $12.2 billion for IDEA
- $2.1 billion for Head Start
- $15.6 billion for Pell Grants
Unfortunately, all of the money for new school construction was stripped out of the final bill. And although a portion of the state stabilization fund can be used for school repairs and renovation, no funds are allowed to be used for NEW buildings.
The unprecedented increases in funding for education programs contained in the bill will present a special challenge in distributing and implementing the resources. Moreover, because the ARRA will give cash-strapped governors some flexibility with how to use the money for education programs via the state stabilization fund, it will be incumbent upon educators to ensure that these funds are allocated appropriately and efficiently within their states.
Securing these resources for education has been a tremendous victory, but it is equally and vitally important to now demonstrate the benefit of these historic investments in education.
What education program or activity in your state do you think should be the top funding priority of the state stabilization money?
ASCD’s Educator Advocates were instrumental in limiting the cuts that had been considered in the Senate bill. Their messages were heard loud and clear and provided House leaders with the necessary leverage to preserve as much education funding as possible during the House-Senate negotiations. If not for their efforts and the efforts of educators like them, education funding in the stimulus bill would not be as high as it is.
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