Looking for our new site?

Jennifer Cohen Kabaker: All Related Content

All related content for this individual is listed below.

New Mexico Among States That May Get Millions in Fed Funding for Poor Students | The American Independent

October 14, 2011

... as they are intended to because they also take into account state size, per pupil expenditure, and even the degree to which a state equitably funds low- and high-income schools, “Jennifer Cohen of New America Foundation in Washington, DC notes. ...

Harkin ESEA Reauthorization Bill is Silent on Title I Funding Formulas

October 13, 2011

Earlier this week, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released his proposal for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as No Child Left Behind). Much has already been said about the various changes proposed in the bill, including a move to college and career ready standards, changes to accountability provisions, and changes to school improvement interventions. (For some good summaries and analyses see here and here.) But few have mentioned a reform clearly missing from the proposed legislation: Any discussion of funding formulas for Title I.

Back in August, Ed Money Watch wrote that Congress was gearing up for a formula fight as part of ESEA reauthorization. Formula fights – which involve congressional staff members negotiating funding formulas to distribute Title I funds among states and school districts that both provide support for the education of disadvantaged students benefit each of their states as much as possible – are notoriously long, heated, and tend to produce odd formulas (i.e. hold-harmless, set-asides, small state minimums, etc.) in the name of political compromise. So it’s no surprise that Harkin’s bi-partisan bill leaves the existing funding formulas untouched in the interest of maintaining the peace.

But there are many good reasons that lawmakers should take up the formula fight in earnest, even if it does further delay reauthorization.

Currently, Title I funding ($14.5 billion in fiscal year 2011) is distributed through four complicated funding formulas that each assess poverty slightly differently. The formulas are opaque and difficult to interpret – some state officials don’t even fully grasp the mechanisms by which the funds are distributed – but here is the gist of each:

  • The Basic grant formula distributes funds based on the number of poor students in a state or district. The lion’s share of Title I funding - $6.6 billion out of $14.5 billion 2011 - is distributed through this un-nuanced formula that does little to ensure that districts with the most poverty receive the most support.
  • The Concentration grant formula provides funds to districts with 15 percent or more students living in poverty. The smallest portion of funds - $1.4 billion out of $14.5 billion in 2011 – is distributed through this formula.
  • The Targeted grant formula gives more funding per pupil to districts with higher concentrations of poor students, meaning those districts receive more funds per poor student as the percentage of students in poverty increases. However, it also favors large districts because it provides more funding to districts with higher numbers of poor students through weighting. This formula was written into the law in 1994 and received $3.3 billion of $14.5 billion in 2011.
  • The Education Finance Incentive Grant formula rewards states with more equitable funding formulas by taking into account a state’s fiscal effort—the percentage of per capita income devoted to education—as well as how equitably the state’s school finance system distributes state and local funding for education. Within states, funding is distributed to school districts in a manner similar to the Targeted grant formula, except that it provides extra weight to poor students in districts in "bad school finance states." This formula was written into the law in 1994 and received $3.3 billion of $14.5 billion in 2011.

But ultimately, these formulas do not always distribute funds as they are intended to because they also take into account state size, per pupil expenditure, and even the degree to which a state equitably funds low- and high-income schools. In other words, the formulas are riddled with political agendas, logrolling and compromises.

While these nuances are supposed to guarantee states a certain level of funding, account for the cost of providing an education in a given state, or reward states with more equitable funding formulas, they often undermine the intent of the law. As a result, states like Wyoming receive far more support per poor pupil than much more impoverished states like Arkansas and New Mexico.

Changing the way these nuances factor into the funding formulas could ensure that districts with high concentrations of poverty receive more funding per poor pupil. Revising the Title I funding formulas would also give Congress a chance to make sure that rural and small school districts get their fair share of funds.  By eliminating provisions that give more funding to larger districts (called number weighting) and changing the way the formulas take state per pupil spending into account, Congress could bolster struggling small and rural districts that often take the largest hit during economic downturns.

It’s highly possible that the House lawmakers will introduce changes to the Title I funding formulas as negotiations continue on ESEA reauthorization. So far, the House has not released any legislative language regarding the formulas. Similarly, a Senator could choose to take on the task and offer an amendment to the Harkin bill that revises the formulas. Regardless of where it comes from, we hope that Congress includes a discussion of Title I funding formulas in its reauthorization process and ensures that Title I funds are able to do as they are intended – to provide additional services to the students that need them most.

Sen. Harkin Restarts Process of Repealing No Child Left Behind, Response Lukewarm | The Washington Independent

October 12, 2011

According to New America Foundation's Jennifer Cohen, an education policy analyst, the Harkin plan would force states to increase funding in poorer districts with its teacher comparability provision. Right now, states must demonstrate through an ...

Bills Show Dueling Priorities on K-12 Spending | Education Week News

October 11, 2011

“It's almost like a dare,” said Jennifer Cohen, a senior policy analyst at the Federal Education Budget Project at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank. “It's the House saying to the Senate Democrats, 'We dare you to vote against more ...

Harkin's ESEA Reauthorization Bill Makes Strides in Fixing Title I Teacher Comparability

October 11, 2011

Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) proposed a draft piece of legislation for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as No Child Left Behind). The current law expired in 2007 (though it has been extended) and education stakeholders have been impatiently waiting for Congress to take up a real reauthorization attempt. While the bill is full of interesting new proposals for the law, we thought we would first take a look at how the law deals with teacher comparability, a hot button issue among teachers unions, civil rights groups, and researchers. The Harkin bill makes great strides in comparability, including some ideas that we have supported to eliminate many of the current problems with the rule.

As a refresher, teacher comparability refers to a current provision of Title I that requires school districts to provide equitable state and local resources to both their low-income (Title I schools) and their higher-income (non-Title I schools).  School districts currently demonstrate that they are meeting the comparability requirements under Title I by comparing state and local resources (i.e. per pupil expenditures) provided to their low-income Title I schools and their higher-income non-Title I schools. To meet the comparability requirement, resources provided to the Title I schools cannot be more than 10 percent below those provided to non-Title I schools.

Under the Harkin bill, starting in the 2015-16 school year, districts would be required to demonstrate comparability by showing that combined state and local expenditures per pupil – including actual expenditures on salaries and benefits – in their Title I schools (low-income) are not less than the average per-pupil expenditures in non-Title I schools. Districts where all of their schools are Title I would need to show that that the average per pupil expenditure in its higher-poverty schools is equal to that in its lower-poverty schools. Prior to the 2015-16 school year, districts would be held to the existing comparability rules to allow them to prepare for the transition.

These changes go a long way in fixing comparability as it currently stands. First, it eliminates the option for districts to demonstrate comparability through measures other than expenditures like teacher-student ratios. This means that comparability would truly become a measure of funds spent, rather than a comparison of easy to document but hard-to-quantify resources.

Second, it requires that expenditures in low- and high-income schools be equivalent – not within 10 percent. This would give districts far less leeway in variations in funding for their schools. While a 10 percent difference may seem small, it can mean the difference between several teaching positions in some schools or a faculty of less experienced teachers.

But most importantly, the Harkin bill closes what has come to be called the “comparability loophole” that allows districts to ignore variations in teacher compensation due to years of experience in their per pupil expenditure calculations for Title I and non-Title I schools. By allowing districts to overlook such variation in teacher pay, the current law perpetuates the uneven distribution of teachers. Because more experienced, and therefore higher paid teachers, tend to work in high-income schools, low-income Title I schools employ primarily less experienced, lower-paid teachers. As a result, high-income schools receive a greater share of state and local funds to pay for their teachers than low-income schools. Closing the loophole by requiring districts to use actual salary and benefits expenditures in schools will help ensure that low-income schools receive sufficient funds to either compensate more experienced teachers or implement other programs, like teacher incentives or additional after school support, to provide their students with the services and support they need. The bill also contains a provision that would require districts to make the comparability data publicly available.

While the Harkin bill does make great changes to comparability, it falls short in specifying how districts would be required to comply with this new, stricter version of the rule. Even for districts that are already using real measures of expenditures to demonstrate comparability, moving from a 10 percent comparability threshold to a complete equivalence will be a challenge. Past proposals for fixing comparability (like Congressman Chaka Fattah’s (D-PA) ESEA Fiscal Fairness Act) have either suggested phasing in the new threshold or requiring districts to submit plans for how they will reach the new threshold. The Harkin bill currently lacks such provisions. The Harkin bill also doesn't touch on the issue of teacher transfers as a means to meeting comparability - likely to be controversial with teachers unions and other groups.

Of course, the Harkin bill is the first draft of what is likely to be many in the process towards reauthorizing ESEA. Congress will have plenty of opportunities to tinker with the comparability provision, as well as the other major proposals in the bill. Check back with Ed Money Watch as this process continues.

 

House Proposed Changes to Pell Grant Eligibility Have Unexpected Effects on Cost

October 6, 2011

As we wrote earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee’s Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012 makes numerous changes to eligibility rules for the Pell Grant program. These changes lower the cost of the program by $3.6 billion in 2012, meaning Congress needs to the fund the program at only $20.7 billion to maintain the maximum grant of $5,550 for the 2012-2013 school year. That’s down $2.3 billion from 2011 levels. Naturally, some of the eligibility changes affect the cost of the program more than others. According to a preliminary Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate, however, the changes that lower the cost of the program the most are surprising.

Upon first reading the House Committee’s appropriations bill, the change that most struck us at Ed Money Watch is the elimination of Pell Grants for students attending school less than half-time. This change would prevent students going back to school at night to earn a degree over several years from receiving Pell Grants. But while this would have a significant effect on individual students, the cost reduction from this change are actually quite small – $109 million in 2012 and $555 million over five years. In other words, if Congress approved the less-than-half-time eligibility change, the annual appropriation needed to fund a maximum grant of $5,550 would be $109 million less than it would be without the change.

CBO%20Estimate%20Pell%20Changes.png

The proposed reduction in the maximum number of semesters a student can receive a Pell Grant – from 18 to 12 – results in relatively large cost reductions: $535 million in 2012 and $2.7 billion over five years.

But the change that would result in the greatest savings is the reduction in the amount of a student’s personal earnings that can be excluded from a Pell Grant award calculation. This change, which affects different types of students differently, would reduce the appropriation required to keep the maximum grant at its current level by $1.6 billion in 2012 and $9.1 billion over five years.

While there is currently little information available on how this change would affect Pell Grant recipients, it’s worth reviewing what role the income protection allowance plays in determining who gets a Pell Grant and how much aid a student could receive.

Pell Grant awards are based on a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is determined by subtracting a family’s expenses (including living expenses, retirement needs, and tax liability) from its total income and, in some cases, assets and then identifying a reasonable percentage of that remaining income to support postsecondary education costs. The EFC is calculated slightly differently for students depending on whether they are dependents, independents with dependents (such as children), or independents without dependents. Importantly, if a student is independent, then the calculation does not include any financial information from his or her parents.

Once a student’s EFC is calculated, a student’s Pell Grant award size is the lower of (1) the total maximum Pell Grant (currently $4,860) minus the student’s EFC, or (2) Cost of Attendance (COA) at the student’s institution of higher education minus that student’s EFC. Students that are attending school less than fully time receive an award that is ratably reduced. After a student’s basic award is calculated, a mandatory award of $690 is added to the total amount (resulting in a total maximum award of $5,550).

The change in the income protection allowance means that more of a student’s personal earnings would be included in their EFC calculation than are currently, resulting in a smaller Pell Grant award overall. And students who may have otherwise qualified for a small grant may get none.  But the change would be different for different students. For some students, the amount of personal income they can exclude from their EFC calculation would decrease by as little as $2,710. But for others, the exclusion would decrease by $7,000 or more.

For dependent students, the amount of personal earnings that would be excluded from the EFC calculation would decrease from $6,000 to $3,290. For independent students without dependents who are single or who are married to spouses who also receive Pell Grants, the amount would decrease from $9,330 to $6,620. For independent students without dependents who are married to spouses that are not receiving a Pell Grant, the personal income exclusion would drop over $4,000 from $14,960 to $10,620. The personal income exclusions for independent students with dependents, which changes depending on the total size of the student’s family, would decrease by significant amounts starting with $6,850 for a family of two. Click here to see a side by side comparison of these changes to the personal income protection exclusion with the current law.

In the end, each of the changes the House appropriations bill makes to Pell Grants will have varying effects on the discretionary cost of the program (we’ll leave a discussion of the effects on the mandatory/entitlement cost for another time). Some of the changes are relatively insignificant, saving less than $100 million in 2012, while others are huge, like the personal income exclusions described above. But each of these proposed changes will be important bargaining chips as the House and Senate negotiate a final fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill over the coming weeks and find a way to pay for the 2012-13 academic year’s Pell Grant.

House Appropriations Committee Introduces 2012 Labor-HHS-Education Bill

September 30, 2011

Yesterday, a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee released a draft version of a fiscal year 2012 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. This comes shortly after the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the bill earlier this week. Unsurprisingly, the House Appropriations Committee’s bill differs from the Senate Committee’s bill in some pretty significant ways, setting Congress up for a drawn out appropriations process. Funding for nearly every federal education program is decided each year through the appropriations process. (A table comparing both Committees' bills can be found at the end of this post.)

The House Committee’s bill includes significant increases for both Title I Part A, grants for local education agencies to support educational services for low income students, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part B (IDEA) special education grants to states. The bill would fund Title I at $15.5 billion, $1 billion more than the 2011 level and the president’s request. Interestingly, however, this increase is accomplished through advance appropriations, a budgeting trick that allows Congress to provide funding for a program through the following year’s appropriations. IDEA would be funded at $12.7 billion, $1 billion over the president’s request and $1.2 billion over 2011 levels and the Senate Committee’s bill. These increases are surprising given the House leadership’s focus on austerity. It should be noted, however, that the funding increase for Title I provided through an increase in a 2013 advance appropriation technically means the funding doesn’t count against the 2012 spending cap House Republican’s fought so hard to put in place during this summer’s debt ceiling negotiation.

Unsurprisingly, the House Committee bill does not continue funding for several programs that the Obama administration favors. For example, Race to the Top ($699 million in 2011) and Investing in Innovation ($150 million in 2011), which were created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, would receive no funding under the bill. The School Improvement Grant program ($535 million in 2011), which has become unpopular with many Republicans because it proscribes school turnaround models some consider too prescriptive, would also lose funding. And the bill would defund Promise Neighborhoods in 2012 ($30 million in 2011), a relatively new program that provides grants to plan and implement community schools. In comparison, the Senate bill maintains or even increases funding for these programs.

The House Committee bill also eliminates funding entirely for two programs that are typically used to provide earmarks to local and national education organizations, Funds for the Improvement of Education (FIE), which received $12 million in 2011, and Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), which received $19 million in 2011.

The House Appropriations Committee bill would also keep funding level for several programs. It would provide 2011 levels of funding for the Teacher Incentive Fund ($399 million), which provides funds to states and districts to implement new teacher compensation systems. Interestingly, the Senate Committee bill would cut funding for this program by $99 million in 2012 and broaden the program to apply to other teacher hiring and retention reforms beyond performance pay. The House Committee bill also maintains funding levels for several higher education programs, including Work Study ($979 million), TRIO ($827 million), and GEAR UP ($303 million).

Much like the Senate Appropriations Committee’s 2012 bill, the most interesting component of the House Committee’s bill pertains to Pell Grants. As we’ve discussed previously, the cost of the Pell Grant program is growing and Congress has been struggling each year to maintain the supplemental funding that it first provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment act of 2009. Earlier this year, Congress provided $10 billion for the program in fiscal year 2012 under the Budget Control Act (the debt ceiling agreement), but only by cutting interest rate subsidies on federal student loans for graduate students. But rather than follow the Senate with further reductions in interest subsides (for undergraduate students), the House Committee’s bill makes significant changes to eligibility requirements for Pell Grants, lowering the cost of the program overall while maintaining the current maximum grant of $5,550.

The bill provides $20.7 billion in discretionary funding for the program, $2.3 billion below 2011 levels, though the eligibility changes mean that level of funding will still be sufficient to maintain the maximum grant. Moreover, future year costs will also be lower.

House%20vs%20Senate%20Pell%20Table.png

The eligibility rules that the House has proposed include a reduction in the maximum number of semesters a student can receive a Pell Grant from 18 to 12, an elimination of Pell Grant eligibility for students that are attending school less than half time, a reduction in the amount of a student’s personal earnings that can be excluded from a Pell Grant award calculation, and a cut to the maximum family income that would automatically qualify a student for the maximum grant. The proposal would also end Pell Grant eligibility for students who qualify for less than 10 percent of the maximum grant. All of these changes would lower the appropriation needed to fund a maximum grant of $5,550 by $3.6 billion in 2012 and about $4.0 billion each year thereafter because fewer students will be eligible for grants and some students will receive smaller grants than they otherwise would have. The changes also generate savings in the portion of the Pell Grant funded on the mandatory (i.e. entitlement) side of the budget totaling $5.7 billion over 10 years.

The differences between the House and Senate Appropriations Committees’ bills are stark. From dramatic increases in Title I and IDEA funding in the House bill to continuing support for Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation in the Senate bill to completely different approaches to paying for Pell Grants, negotiations over Department of Education funding are likely to be challenging and drawn-out. Check back with Ed Money Watch as this process continues.

House%20vs%20Senate%20Approps%20Table2.p

Analysts See No Child Left Behind Waivers as Sensible Move, But Some Cynicism Remains | The American Independent

September 27, 2011

... And then there’s the separate matter of what state tests even reveal. “I think the idea is that the standards aren’t increasing fast enough,” says Jennifer Cohen of the New American Foundation. “It is one thing to have a set of standards made in a vacuum -– they may be getting harder but there is nothing to suggest that they are at all attached to what students need to know to succeed in college and career.” ...

Senate Appropriations Committee Passes Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill

September 27, 2011

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal year 2012 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill. Though this action is a little late, given that Congress is already considering a Continuing Resolution to temporarily extend 2012 appropriations at 2011 levels, it does give us a sense of what Department of Education appropriations could look like in 2012, at least according to Senate Democrats. The bill provides the Department of Education with $68.4 billion in funding, $81 million more than in 2011. Given that the Budget Control Act of 2011 requires an overall cut in discretionary spending, this increase suggests that the Senate Appropriations Committee has chosen to protect education spending in 2012.

There are very few surprises in the Senate Committee’s bill. In fact, most large K-12 education programs would be funded at 2011 levels in the bill including Title I, Part A ($14.463 billion), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ($11.482 billion) and Impact Aid Basic Support Payments ($1.136 billion). The bill even includes funding for Race to the Top ($699 million) and Investing in Innovation ($150 million) at 2011 levels. The same is true of the large higher education programs like Work-Study ($979 million), TRIO ($827 million), and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants ($736 million). A table of appropriations for selected programs can be found at the end of this post.

Interestingly, the bill ignores many of the president’s requests for increased funding for individual programs. For example, the president requested $150 million, up from $30 million in 2011, in funding for Promise Neighborhoods, a program that supports the planning and implementation of community-based schools similar to the Harlem Children’s Zone. However, the Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides the program with $60 million instead. The Senate Committee also ignored the president’s request to increase funding for Race to the Top from $699 million to $900 million, and Investing in Innovation from $150 million to $300 million.

The Committee did choose to increase funding for some programs without the president’s prompting. For example, the bill increases funding for the Fund for the Improvement of Education Programs of National Significance from $12 million in 2011 to $43 million in 2012. This increase includes $30 million for a competitive grant program for national non-profits and libraries that focus on child literacy.

The bill does cut some funding for a couple of programs from 2011 levels. For example, the Teacher Incentive Fund, which provides grants to districts and states to implement innovative teacher compensation, hiring, and retention plans, would receive $300 million in 2012, down from $399 million in 2011. The bill also broadens the scope of the program to include other interventions besides performance-based compensation systems because “rigorous research released over the past year” shows that these systems “had no effect on increasing student achievement.” The Safe and Drug Free Schools National Programs would also be cut, receiving $79 million, down from $119 million in 2011.

And the Senate Appropriations Committee bill restores $183 million in funding for Striving Readers, a comprehensive literacy program that was defunded in fiscal year 2011 during the extended appropriations process.

The most complicated aspect of the 2012 appropriations process is Pell Grant funding. The Senate Committee’s bill provides $23 billion in discretionary funding for Pell Grants, the same as in 2011, but also provides a supplement of $1.3 billion to the regular appropriation to maintain a maximum grant of $5,550 in fiscal year 2012 (and an additional $1.0 billion in 2013). As we’ve discussed previously, the cost of the Pell Grant program is growing and Congress has been struggling each year to maintain the funding that it first provided on in the American Recovery and Reinvestment act of 2009. The Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides the third supplemental funding boost for the program this year, and the second for fiscal year 2012. Earlier this year, Congress provided $10 billion for the program in fiscal year 2012 under the Budget Control Act (the debt ceiling agreement), but only by cutting interest rate subsidies on federal student loans. To provide the latest $1.3 billion in supplemental funding, the Senate Appropriations Committee would eliminate the interest grace period (students would not have to make payments during this six-month period but interest would accrue) on subsidized Stafford Loans for undergraduate students. All together, these many sources of support for Pell Grants make up just enough funding to maintain the maximum grant.

senate%20approps%20table3.png

The Senate Appropriations Committee bill maintains the vast majority of funding for Department of Education programs in 2012. But this only represents what the Democratic-controlled Senate leadership supports. It is highly unlikely that the Republican-controlled House will provide as generous a budget for the Department of Education. Because the final appropriations bill must be passed by both houses, it will probably differ greatly from the current Senate Appropriations Committee bill. The fiscal year 2012 appropriations process is still far from over.

2012%20senate%20approps.png

Obama's Teacher Stabilization Funding Adds to Billions in Previous Education Jobs Support

September 22, 2011

A couple weeks ago, President Obama announced the American Jobs Act, a mix of tax cuts and new spending totaling $447 billion over ten years, intended to stimulate job creation in the country. Unsurprisingly, the bill includes a sizeable chunk of money - $30 billion – to help pay the salaries and benefits of K-12 teachers and prevent layoffs throughout the nation’s school districts. But the president’s proposed Teacher Stabilization fund isn’t the first time the Obama administration has supported providing a big pot of funding to help support state education budgets.

Back in 2009, Congress included $39.7 billion in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act specifically to support state education spending. And in 2010, the president signed the Education Jobs Fund, which provided an additional $10 billion for K-12 teacher salaries and benefits. While the details of these programs are all slightly different, lawmakers designed them to do the same thing – keep teachers and other education employees in their jobs by providing states with support to make up for lagging tax revenues.

If Congress does pass the president’s American Jobs Act with $30 billion for the Teacher Stabilization fund, total cumulative emergency funding to support education jobs since 2009 will reach $79.7 billion. That’s more than the Department of Education’s annual budget (though the jobs money has been spread out over fiscal years 2009 through 2013). Each program distributes the funds among states in the same manner – 60 percent according to each state’s share of the school-age population and 40 percent according to each state’s share of the total population. To see state allocations under each program and their share of total emergency spending for education jobs, click here.

But each program does differ slightly. As a refresher, let’s briefly run through the details of each program:

The 2009 Education Stabilization fund of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund provided $39.7 billion to help support state K-12 and higher education budgets in fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011. Most states used the majority of their funds in 2010 to support K-12 education. The funds could be used for any K-12 purposes authorized in the No Child Left Behind Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Perkins Career and Vocational Act, or the Adult and Family Literacy Act, for early education purposes, or for higher education purposes including education, general expenditures and efforts to delay tuition increases. The funds could not be used for construction, renovation, or modernization purposes. While the funds could be used for nearly any purpose, reporting suggests that most of it was used for salaries and benefits. The maintenance of effort provision allowed states to cut state support for education down to 2006 levels and use the Education Stabilization funds to fill the gap between that level and the higher of 2008 or 2009 levels.

The 2010 Education Jobs Fund provides $10 billion in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 specifically to help support teacher and other education staff salaries and benefits. As of earlier this month, states had drawn down 61.4 percent of these funds, meaning that the majority of them have been used in fiscal year 2011. The maintenance of effort provision in the Education Jobs Fund legislation is different from that for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. States that receive Education Jobs Funds must (1) maintain K-12 and higher education spending at 2009 spending levels; (2) maintain K-12 and higher education spending levels at the same proportion of state spending as they did in 2010; or (3) if state tax revenues in 2009 were lower than in 2006, maintain K-12 and higher education spending levels at either 2006 levels or in the same proportion of state spending as they did in 2006. This change to the maintenance of effort provision was intended to prevent states from overly manipulating their budgets to make room for the Education Jobs Funds.

Much like the Education Jobs Fund, the Teacher Stabilization Fund would provide support to states for teacher and other education staff salaries and benefits and other employment expenses. The $30 billion in funds would be available in fiscal years 2012 and 2013. And the maintenance of effort provision has changed slightly to require states to maintain spending at 2011 levels or above: The proposed bill states that in fiscal year 2012, governors must maintain early education, K-12, and higher education spending at or above 2011 levels or at the same proportion of total state spending as in 2011; in 2013, governors must maintain early education, K-12, and higher education spending at or above 2012 levels or at the same proportion of total state spending as in 2012.

The Teacher Stabilization Fund is the most recent addition to a series of grant aid programs to support state education budgets and save jobs. If enacted, it would mark five years of large-scale, emergency federal support for state K-12 budgets. There is no doubt that many states are still facing difficult financial situations and the Teacher Stabilization funds will certainly help these states keep teachers in their jobs and keep class sizes from growing. But it is also possible that this continued federal support for state education budgets – if Congress passes the $30 billion Teacher Stabilization Fund – is further delaying inevitable difficult decisions states and districts will have to make about how they structure their budgets and pay their teachers.

Syndicate content