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Ed-Insider December 4, 2003


Education Insider

A weekly review of progress on the Quality Public Schools Agenda and other legislation that impacts our students, classrooms, and public education.

December 4, 2003

Congress, in recess for an extended Thanksgiving holiday, returns
the week of December 8 in a Grand Finale before adjourning for the year.

No budget yet for this fiscal year that began October 1: The federal government continues to function under a series of temporary spending bills (Continuing Resolutions). The current Continuing Resolution runs through January 31.

"They Cooked Up a Turkey" -- Sen. Robert Byrd (WV): Negotiators finally managed to complete a catch-all (omnibus) package (H.R. 2673-H Rept. 108-401) for the budget year. The House is scheduled to vote December 8. The Senate may not vote until Congress returns in January.

NEA strongly opposes the omnibus package that:

  • Diverts public funds to unaccountable private schools in the District of Columbia through taxpayer-funded vouchers. This isn't the civics and government you studied.
    • The Senate never voted on the voucher program because the Leadership lacked the votes for passage, yet the negotiators inserted vouchers for D.C. private and religious schools in the package.
    • Further, provisions attempting to hold private schools to the same teacher quality and accountability standards as public schools were watered down or eliminated, even as Congress preaches accountability.

  • Shortchanges critical education programs.
    • The Message: Do More with Less. Title I programs for schools with large numbers of disadvantaged students are funded far below levels authorized in the ESEA/No Child Left Behind Act. Special education (IDEA) funding is about half the amount Congress approved only a few months ago in the budget blueprint.

  • Fails to protect workers' rights -
    • The agreement strips out Senate-passed language protecting the overtime rights of millions of workers.

Tell Congress: Reject this ill-conceived agreement! Craft a package that protects our nation's children and families.

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