New York, NY (July 19, 2023) – Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) released the following statement today in response to the draft fiscal year 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies funding bill recently introduced by House Appropriations Committee Republicans:
“The Republicans’ first attack on public education this year came in March through a bill designed to stoke culture wars and ban books. This budget would decimate funding for flagship education programs and put millions of students at serious risk, further revealing Republicans’ true level of commitment to supporting our students.
We are absolutely shocked to see that the bill would cut Title I funding by 80%—almost $15 billion—which would severely affect the ability to implement programs in 7 out of every 10 of our nation’s school districts. Instead of the $2 billion we had hoped to see, Republicans are proposing to outright eliminate Title III funding—the main source of federal support for English language learners.
Furthering the flagrant disregard for students’ well-being, we are alarmed to see that the bill would cut funding for research and development by $101 million, crippling much needed efforts to address COVID-related learning loss through evidence-based interventions.
On the higher education side, the bill looks equally awful. Funding for the Augustus Hawkins program—an integral lever in the support of HBCUs and other MSIs —is eliminated outright, causing profound damage to teacher training and the diversification of the teaching force.
We are deeply concerned to see that the bill would underfund Federal Student Aid, just as loan repayments are starting up again, putting countless numbers of students at risk of serious financial harm. Additionally distressing, the bill also seeks to eliminate Federal Work-Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants—crucial programs that make college more affordable for more than 2 million students. Continuing, it would fail to increase Pell Grants, pushing even more of the burden of paying for college onto hard-working, low-income students.
While any single item proposed within the bill is just cause for alarm, taken as a whole, the House Republicans’ drafted plan seems an outright attack on education and programs designed to protect and support the very students who need it most. We condemn this thoughtless piece of legislation and ask that voters hold accountable the policymakers supporting this devastating bill—one that was no less proposed at a time when we should be doing more to support public education, not drastically less.”