Education Secy. Arne Duncan derided Republican FY 2016 spending bills that would substantially cut education funding next year and force about 100,000 poor and middle-income children to go without early learning classes.
The GOP authored spending bills in the House and Senate that would slash funding for federal education programs by $1.7 billion and $2.8 billion, respectively. Those bills, which passed through appropriations committee this summer, have not been voted on by the full chambers.
The bills would eliminate DoEd’s $250 million Preschool Development Grant program. The spending measure would also cut funding for existing grantees who still have two years left on their grants.
“Congress is moving forward with a plan that would take critical early learning opportunities from the children who need it the most – delaying their learning by a year and missing an opportunity to chip away at the educational gaps that exist for children from low- and moderate income families,” Duncan said. “These children and their families cannot afford to wait for Washington to decide whether or not they get the right start for success.”
The Preschool Development Grants (CFDA Number: 84.419) are part of a larger effort to offer pre-K to more 4-year-olds. The grants are a renamed version of the old Race to the Top (R2T) competition that distributed billions to schools across the country to improve classroom instruction. The program was given a new name last year after it was clear that appropriators were unenthusiastic about the grants.
Eighteen states were named winners in the latest round of the competition that distributed $226 million to expand high quality early childhood education programs. It has two categories: one to low-capacity or rural states with small or no state-funded preschool programs (Development Grants); and another to high-capacity states with established programs or that have received Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants (Expansion Grants).
- Development Grants (awards ranging from $2 million to $20 million per year over four years): To be eligible states must serve less than 10% of four-year-olds and have not received an RTT-ELC grant. Up to 35% of the grant award may be used for state-level infrastructure and quality improvements. Nine states applied; five states won development grants: Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Montana and Nevada.
- Expansion Grants (awards ranging from $2 million to $20 million a year for four years): These grants will help states address fundamental needs including workforce development, quality improvement efforts and the scale-up of proven preschool models. DoEd said that 27 applied, 13 won expansion grants: Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.
Pulling these funds away from states and communities in the last two years of the grant would jeopardize their plans to serve nearly 60,000 additional children and would leave another 43,000 children to attend preschool in programs in need of important quality improvements, Duncan said.