The Road Ahead: Federal Education Funding in Fiscal Year 2020

To understand where Congress goes next in this year’s education funding process, it is important to understand the journey up to this point. The U.S. House of Representatives is currently in the thick of its funding process, which is more commonly known as appropriations. They must, along with the U.S. Senate, fund education programs for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 by September 30, 2019.

Last month, the House Appropriations Committee approved the House version of the FY 2020 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill. The bill provides crucial funding for education and related programs that serve millions of students across the country, including roughly $76 billion for the Department of Education, which is a 7.2% increase over the amount approved in the previous year.

The bill also provided the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) program with $15 million, which is $5 million over FY 2019 funding. With this funding level, the committee sent a clear message that family engagement is a priority and greater investments must be made to ensure parents are at the decision-making table when it comes to their child’s education. The SFEC program is a critical priority for National PTA, and we applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for their commitment to robust funding for public education. Unfortunately, the road ahead to make the bill law is a long one.

The next step for the Labor-HHS-Education funding bill is the House floor where the full chamber will vote on the bill. However, even if the bill does pass the House, it is unlikely that the Senate will pass it in its current form. Both chambers must agree on the bill for education programs to be funded by the Sept. 30, 2019 deadline.

Unlike the House, the Senate Appropriations Committee has not started work on their education funding bill and does not anticipate doing so until a budget deal is enacted to change the spending caps for discretionary programs. Discretionary programs are programs that must have their funding renewed each year in order to continue operating and includes education programs. Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, this year there will be automatic cuts to discretionary programs—translating into a nearly $20 billion reduction to critical education, health and workforce budgets—unless Congress takes action to raise them. If no budget deal is made before the Sept. 30, 2019 deadline, there could be a continuing resolution which would temporarily provide funding until an agreement is made. If no continuing resolution is passed, there will be a government shutdown.

Despite this multistep process, immense gains have already been made for education programs and there is a reason to believe a budget deal could be solidified sooner rather than later. National PTA’s advocates have made their voices heard during the appropriations process thus far. Our advocates helped secure the $5 million increase to SFECs in the House Labor-HHS-Education funding bill and are taking action urging Congress to raise the budget caps to avoid automatic spending cuts to education.

Recent media reports also suggest that both Congressional leadership and the White House are open to a budget deal to raise the caps. While this is a hopeful sign, the education community must stay vigilant until a deal is finalized, so that robust and equitable education investments are made so that all children can reach their full potential. Check out National PTA’s Federal Appropriations 101 resources to learn more about how critical children’s programs are funded.

Take Action—Contact your federal lawmakers and urge them to raise the budget caps to avoid potential automatic spending cuts to education.


About the Author:
Cyrus Huncharek is the Government Affairs Coordinator for National PTA.

National PTA is #PublicSchoolProud March 25-29, 2019

Public Schools Week is a time to celebrate our nation’s public schools, our students and the professionals who work each day to make every child’s potential a reality. This year, Public Schools Week will take place March 25-29, 2019 with a broad group of education associations hosting events on the importance of public education. On Capitol Hill, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Washington D.C. will also speak on the need for a strong public education system for the future of our country’s economic strength. National PTA is proud to join our organizational partners in the week’s events and encourages everyone to get involved.

Public schools serve as the foundation of our nation’s democracy. It is our public schools that will provide the educated, innovative and creative workforce of tomorrow—the entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, artists and political leaders who will ensure that our nation will flourish in an increasingly competitive global economy. Nine out of every 10 students in the United States attend a public school. By strengthening the public-school system, we strengthen the democracy of our country.

Public schools welcome every child—regardless of ability, race, wealth, language, country of origin or needs. Despite the mounting challenges facing the public education system, public schools continue to provide opportunities for the more than 50 million students who are learning and growing inside our nation’s school buildings. There is no better time than now to speak out about the value of public education. #PublicSchoolProud creates a platform for Americans to join together and express their support for public education. We encourage everyone to use this hashtag to ask our policymakers to invest in our students and families to help ensure every child’s potential becomes a reality.

National PTA recognizes that when our public schools succeed, so too do our communities. The success of our children and the future leaders of our nation is critically dependent on the support we give to public education. That’s why National PTA has long advocated for the strengthening of the public education system and will continue to do so with the new 116th Congress. We urge policymakers to support a public schools week resolution, increase federal investments in public education and prioritize family engagement in federal education legislation and programs.

Every child deserves to learn in an environment that is safe and to have the opportunity to grow into a happy and healthy adult. We need public school champions in government to support Public Schools Week and to solidify that support through appropriate policies. Read more about National PTA’s legislative priorities and how they support public schools.  

So, what can you do to show your support for our students, teachers, principals, and all the educators and support staff that serve in our public schools during Public Schools Week? First, read more about Public Schools Week 2019 on the Learning First Alliance’s website. Then, use the tools on the Public Schools Week webpage. You’ll find easy-to-use templates to write op-ed pieces on public schools, tips on advocating for public education with local or state lawmakers, and more. You can also find ideas on how to engage local businesses and community organizations in your Public Schools Week events. Finally, make sure to use the social media toolkit before and during Public Schools Week to publicly highlight your support for public education with your friends and family.

We also want to hear from you! Share your story about the impact public education has had on your life.  It will help us continue to advocate for investments in quality public education for all children. Join us in celebrating our public education system March 25-29, 2019 and beyond—We are #PublicSchoolProud!

Why is #PTALegCon so Important and How Does it Impact You?

The 2019 National PTA Legislative Conference (#PTALegCon) is your opportunity to improve the lives of children and families. This year our theme is PTA Takes Action for Kids! and we will do just that when we march on Capitol Hill to demand that the Federal Government do more to support, develop and protect our nation’s youth.

Held just steps away from Washington D.C., you will have the opportunity to network with fellow PTA advocates, meet with policymakers and learn how to shape public policy on Capitol Hill and at home. Don’t miss this chance to expand your knowledge and have your voice heard!

As a constituent, your on-the-ground perspective is invaluable to legislators and their staff. During our #PTALegCon Capitol Hill Day, Wednesday, March 13, you will be able to inform lawmakers about which federal programs are serving our children well and which ones are failing our children. Federal policymakers work to improve the lives of children and families and they want to hear directly from the people they represent. We all want to improve education and now is the time to let the 116th Congress know how you want them to take action.

Attending #PTALegCon is also about improving your advocacy skills. You will have the opportunity to hear from policy experts during our #PTALegCon Workshops, which will cover pressing topics such as special education, school funding, school data reporting and school safety. These experts will guide you through the policy landscape and equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to effectively advocate on these issues. You will leave better prepared to engage in policy discussions with lawmakers, advocates and members of your community.

During the conference, you will also have ample time to network and hear advocacy success stories, so you can be more effective both on Capitol Hill and in your community. All of the learning opportunities at #PTALegCon are designed to help you take what you learn and share it back in your community, so you can turn more people into PTA advocates!

Advocacy is at the core of our association’s mission. For over 120 years, National PTA has led the way in improving the lives of children in education. Through our members’ persistent commitment to advocacy, National PTA has played an integral role in landmark federal education legislation and policies. At this year’s #PTALegCon, let’s continue to lead the nation towards making every child’s potential a reality.

Join us! Register here to attend the 2019 National PTA Legislative Conference.