Last week, appearing before a multicolored backdrop reading “Fund Our Schools, Keep Your Promise,” a group of parents, teachers, and students joined members of Congress to voice their opposition to a long-term continuing resolution and demand that Congress pass the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill.
The rally was staged by the Committee for Education Funding and featured Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Paul Wellstone (D-MN), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Jim Jeffords (I-VT). Reps. Dave Obey (D-WI), ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, and George Miller (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, also attended.
The speakers sympathized with school districts during a time when the federal government has failed to provide sufficient resources to make up for declining state and local resources. They urged Congress to pass the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations at a level that would sufficiently fund the No Child Left Behind Act rather than passing a long-term continuing resolution that provides no funding increase in the aggregate over last year’s level. At the same time as the federal government is poised to freeze federal funding, state governments are facing declining state revenues. In a report released by Miller and Kennedy the same day, findings show that, when combined, states have cut education spending $9.1 billion in the last fiscal year, and have cut a total of $22 billion from higher education and elementary and secondary education over the last two years. (The report, Education in Crisis: Update on the State Budget Crunch is available at:http://edworkforce.house.gov/democrats/rel10802.html).
Additional speakers included Laura Wolf, the executive dean of student services at Des Moines Area Community College, Jo’ie Taylor, president of the United States Student Association, and Barry Beauchamp, the superintendent of Lawton Public Schools in Oklahoma. Each of the speakers stressed that their respective institutions could handle a continuing resolution, but students could not. To paraphrase Superintendent Beauchamp, schools have always operated on the premise of “no child left behind,” but without more help from the federal government, some children will likely be left behind.