DFER CEO Jorge Elorza Releases Statement on Congressional FY24 Final Spending Package

Press Releases

March 25, 2024

New York, NY (March 25, 2024) – Today, DFER CEO Jorge Elorza released the following statement in response to the House passing the federal education spending bill:

“The Congressional FY24 spending bill represents a significant win for students by averting the drastic cuts to crucial education programs initially proposed by Republicans. We applaud House and Senate Democrats’ efforts to safeguard students’ rights to a robust public education system and their rejection of MAGA extremists’ efforts to undermine our public education system.

We applaud the $18.4 billion allocated for ESSA Title I grants to local education agencies, a $20 million increase from FY23. This funding, while modest, is a resounding rebuttal to the 80% cut proposed by House Republicans. These funds will provide crucial support for schools—especially those in high-poverty areas and other districts facing fiscal challenges—to sustain learning recovery programs after ESSER funds expire. 

Additionally, we applaud the increased funding for IDEA to support students with disabilities, and while we are disappointed there is no increase in funding to Title III—which seeks to specifically aid English learners—we are also pleased to see there were no cuts either, as both investments are key to addressing the diverse needs of our student population.

Acknowledging the heightened demand for diverse, high-quality public education options, including public charter schools, we continue to urge Congress to increase funding for the Charter Schools Program (CSP) to $500M. We recommend increasing outreach and technical assistance to public charter applicants who need guidance in navigating the increasingly complex application process and particularly providing aid to schools serving under-resourced communities.

We appreciate Democrats’ ongoing commitment to funding vital higher education programs, ensuring that all post-secondary opportunities for students remain protected. However, it’s essential to note that simply maintaining flat-funding is not sufficient. We must advocate for increased funding to empower all students, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, with the chance to attend the college that best suits their aspirations. We likewise continue to call on Congress to increase funding for the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence. Investing $300M in this critical program supports HBCUs, TCCUs, and MSIs. Augustus Hawkins is instrumental in enhancing teacher preparation programs and fostering diversity within the teaching workforce.

The current flat-funding of total federal student aid assistance at $24.6 billion and the unchanging maximum yearly Pell Grant award per student at $7,395 highlight the need for further investment. By enhancing accessibility to higher education pathways, we can truly support students’ ambitions and ensure that education remains a pathway to success for all.

We commend President Biden for his part in these negotiations and swiftly signing the budget into law. Furthermore, we urge the President to continue to take decisive action to strengthen America’s education system, guaranteeing a high-quality education for every student, regardless of their socioeconomic background or zip code. It is imperative for Democrats to continue to steadfastly oppose the Republican Party’s overt attempts to undermine public education and champion policies that uplift our students and communities.”