Advocates mull future of HEA funding

From: Education Daily
Lobbyists are taking different points of view about the meaning of proposed cuts to the teacher programs in the Higher Education Act. Both education committees have thrown bipartisan support behind programs to recruit and retain teachers in high-needs schools in various bills, including the Senate’s HEA reauthorization and the House budget reconciliation bill. Appropriators, however, appear poised to make further cuts to existing teacher programs governed by Title II of HEA. Stakes are higher for the teacher programs this year because of the potential for changes to their structure and focus during HEA reauthorization. “There are great things in the Senate HEA reauthorization bill with the focus on clinical preparation and teacher residency programs. We are really pleased with that direction,” said Jane West, vice president of government relations for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. “But we are disappointed with the funding levels.” “We know we’re in a time of distributing very scarce dollars, but ¿ the funding cuts represent a threat to our continued reform,” said AACTE president Sharon Robinson. On the other hand, the House’s version of the budget reconciliation, H.R. 2669, would create a TEACH loan relief program worth $375 million over five years for prospective teachers who agree to teach in high-need areas. If retained, the grants will not be reliant on the annual appropriations process. The bill also would be protected from a filibuster in the Senate. “By going beyond what reconciliation required in terms of the $750 million for deficit reduction and going after the lender subsidies, they’ve created new revenue sources to support a lot of activities that we believe have been ignored or underfunded,” Cowan said. “I think it’s a pretty clear sign that appropriators and authorizers are working together to be as creative as possible to address the need to recruit and retain high-quality teachers.”
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