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A Responsible Budget That Invests In Essential Education Priorities May 19, 2000

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 19, 2000

May 19, 2000

Today President Clinton will call on the Congress to pass a budget that invests in our schools while demanding more from them. In February the President sent the Congress a balanced and responsible budget that made for investments in key educational initiatives to raise standards, increase accountability, and invest in what works. The Congressional Republicans have passed a budget plan built on misguided priorities and insufficient resources. In order to pay for risky and fiscally irresponsible tax cuts, the Congressional Republican budget proposes to cut investments in domestic priorities $29 billion below the President’s level, an average cut of 9 percent. The budget plan passed on a party-line vote by an appropriations subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives means the following for American education:

  • Fails to help 5,000 schools make urgently needed repairs. The House appropriation ignores the President’s $1.3 billion plan to help states and localities make $6.5 billion in emergency repairs to crumbling schools.
  • Denies smaller classes to as many as 2.9 million young children in the early grades. The House appropriation provides none of the President’s $1.75 billion request for class-size reduction. It backs away from the bipartisan agreement to hire 100,000 new teachers and jeopardizes the federal commitment to hire as many as 20,000 new teachers next year and to continue support for the 29,000 teachers already hired. Research shows that small classes in the early grades help students master the basics and raise student achievement.
  • Denies nearly 650,000 low-income middle-school students the extra college preparation they need through the GEAR UP initiative. GEAR UP provides disadvantaged youth early college preparation and awareness activities including mentoring, tutoring, college visits, and financial aid information. The House subcommittee freezes GEAR UP at this year’s level, rather than increasing it to $325 million as requested by the President, denying GEAR UP to roughly 650,000 disadvantaged students. Mentoring and college preparation activities are key strategies to help disadvantaged youngsters learn about higher education opportunities.
  • Refuses as many as 1.6 million children extended learning opportunities in safe, drug-free environments. The House subcommittee provides only $600 million for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, rather than the $1 billion requested by President Clinton, preventing help to 900 communities. Extended learning time is an essential strategy to help all students master challenging academic material and reach high standards. The President’s budget would enable all students in low-performing schools to participate in high quality after-school and summer school programs to raise student achievement.
  • Dramatically curtails state and local efforts to improve low-performing schools. By eliminating Title I Accountability grants, for which President Clinton requested $250 million, the House subcommittee would deny extra assistance to at least 80 percent of the 7,000 schools identified for improvement or corrective action under Title I. States and localities use this funding to intervene in low-performing schools to turn them around and also to provide greater public school choice for students in low-performing schools.
  • Fails to act to close the digital divide through Community Technology Centers. The House freezes funding for Community Technology Centers at $32.5 million, $67.5 million below the President, eliminating support for 780 centers in 280 communities for thousands of families in high-poverty areas.
  • Cuts Youth Opportunity Grants from $250 million to $175 million. The President requested $375 million to provide comprehensive employment and training assistance to 75,000 out-of-school youth in high poverty areas.
  • Denies more than 260,000 disadvantaged students Title I services to help them learn the basics and reach high standards. The House plan also fails to provide new resources needed to improve teacher quality and strengthen school improvement efforts. Title I funding is the cornerstone of state and local efforts to ensure that all students learn challenging academic material and reach high standards.
  • Fails to improve teacher quality by ignoring the President’s request for $1 billion to improve teacher quality through standards-based professional development, teacher recruitment, teacher peer review programs, teacher quality awards, and professional development for early childhood educators. Research shows that teacher quality is a key indicator of student performance.
  • Fails to help 100,000 students learn to read independently and well by the end of the third grade by freezing funding for the Reading Excellence Act at $260 million, $26 million below the President’s request. The President has set a goal that all students will read independently and well by the end of the third-grade, something that research shows is crucial for future academic success.

Moreover, the House and Senate have ignored the President’s major education tax cuts:

  • Nearly $25 Billion in School Modernization Bonds to help build and modernize 6,000 schools. Districts urgently need help upgrading their school facilities to accommodate record enrollments and repair crumbling buildings. Because interest on the bonds would be paid by federal tax credits, the bonds allow districts to borrow interest-free.
  • The Nearly $30-Billion College Opportunity Tax Cut to make college more affordable and accessible. When fully phased in by 2003, the College Opportunity Tax Cut would help pay for 28 percent of tuition, up to$10,000, providing up to $2,800 in tax relief per family.

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