This week, Congress passed a 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that protects funding for AmeriCorps but cuts funding to the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program (Title IIA) by approximately 10% along with a set of important competitive grants that support educators by as much as 30%.
Relay is encouraged to see Congress protect funding for AmeriCorps for the remainder of the 2017 fiscal year. AmeriCorps is a critical path to community and national service for many individuals, including many aspiring public school teachers across the country. Approximately 750 AmeriCorps members are currently enrolled in Relay teacher preparation programs. These aspiring educators are working in some of the highest need classrooms across the country. They serve in Wilmington, DE; Chicago, IL; Baton Rouge, LA; New Orleans, LA; New York City, NY; Newark, NJ; Camden, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Nashville, TN; Memphis, TN; and Houston, TX.
At the same time, Relay is concerned to see that the bulk of cuts to education target funding sources that support the preparation and development of teachers and school leaders. Budget cuts to the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program limit our states, districts, and schools from pursuing high-quality and innovative educator preparation and development opportunities that have long-term benefits for children and communities. This is particularly disappointing given Congress’s bipartisan effort to overhaul this program to encourage more on-the-job training for teachers in low-income communities. Cuts to competitive grant programs like the Supporting Effective Educator Development, the Education Innovation and Research, and the Teacher and School Leader grant programs limit innovation happening in educator preparation and development at a time when demand for high-quality educators is growing.
As Congress prepares an FY18 budget, Relay calls on our elected officials to protect funding for national service, educators, and innovation in education – all of which are critical to our children’s future and our nation’s future.