Earlier this month, Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT) launched a new initiative that would significantly increase the federal role in education. Jeffords’ “Ten in Ten” plan would increase education spending by $21 billion for fiscal year 2003 and by $210 billion over 10 years. Such an investment would return the federal education commitment to 10 percent of the entire federal budget-the same percentage education enjoyed in the 1940’s.
Jeffords outlined his plan before the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a coalition of 185 national organizations committed to the protection of civil and human rights since its founding in 1950. Jeffords’ plan would go a long way toward providing the resources needed to meet the requirements outlined in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and supporting additional priorities including ensuring high quality teachers, providing full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, making additional funding available for Pell Grants, and extending the school year to afford students an opportunity to integrate work experience with classroom learning.
|In His Own Words
Sen. Jeffords has long been one of the leading voices in Congress calling for a national investment in education. In his book, My Declaration of Independence, Jeffords describes the budget debate at the beginning of last year that led to his decision to leave the Republican Party and become an Independent:
Congress Debates Fiscal Year 2003 Spending Total, Education Funding in the Balance
On Capitol Hill, the House and Senate leadership have agreed to allow the Appropriations Committees to move ahead without a budget plan. But, once again, the amount of money that will be available for domestic programs such as education is the focus of the debate. President Bush, the House GOP leadership and House Budget Chairman Jim Nussle (R-IA) want the fiscal year 2003 spending total set at $759 billion. Meanwhile, Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-SD) and House Appropriations Chairman C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) want the $768 billion number that Conrad included in the Senate budget resolution. Education is potentially $6.8 billion of the $9 billion difference between the two proposals.
House and Senate members of both parties are divided into several camps on this subject, including deficit hawks and those members who would add more discretionary spending in areas such as education. Such a scenario is eerily reminiscent of that described in Sen. Jeffords’ book. Last year’s tax cut, which some Democrats joined Republicans to support, ate up the huge federal surplus. Now, Democrats and Republicans alike are concerned that any funding amount over the President’s budget would dip into the Social Security surplus. Largely left out of the debate is the failure of Congress and the President to meet the recommendations in No Child Left Behind for increasing funding for Title I, ensuring highly qualified teachers and meeting higher standards.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives will most likely begin floor debate on the $29.4 billion fiscal 2002 supplemental spending bill on Wednesday. The bill contains $1 billion to help cover the Pell Grant shortfall. On the Senate side, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) is seeking to add $2.5 billion to the House bill for a total of about $32 billion. Conservatives in both chambers are hesitant to spend more than President Bush’s original $27.1 billion request.
|Prioritizing Civil Rights and Education: Summer Program Aims to Educate
This summer, students will attend a summer fellowship program celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and engage in opportunities to shape the future civil rights debate. Civil Rights Summer 2002 is a collaboration of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Leadership Conference Education Fund, the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights, and The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. Initially, participants will spend a week of study and training at Harvard that will link the history of the movement to civil rights struggles today. Then, each student will learn about the public policy side of the movement by working at a national civil rights organization in Washington, D.C. Finally, participants will create a national student activist network league to promote social justice.