Why Everyone in DC Is Mad About ESSA, Congress, Charters, Choice — or All of the Above | The 74

Washington, D.C.

The nation’s capital went through a heat wave last week at the same time that a series of education world events sent policymakers’ and advocates’ tempers rising right alongside the thermometer.

Several disputes, big and small, erupted throughout the week, but the two main battles involved the Education Department funding bill and the department’s ongoing feedback to states on their plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Wednesday afternoon, the House Appropriations Committee released the text of its Education Department spending bill. It cut $2.4 billion from the department, including ending $2 billion in teacher training grants.

Education advocacy groups have been unsparing in their criticism, and a top Democrat Thursday said it “appears to me to be anti-teacher.”

(The 74: House Subcommittee Advances Education Funding Bill as Democrats Protest ‘Anti-Teacher’ Cuts)

All the Democrats on the committee voted against advancing the bill, but administration Republicans can’t be happy with it, either.

The bill doesn’t include the $1 billion in public school choice funds or the $250 million pilot voucher program the administration sought, a blow to President Trump, who promised an ambitious federal school choice program, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has worked on the issue for decades and defended the proposal at two very contentious budget hearings.

(The 74: DeVos Says IDEA, Other Federal Laws Apply to Private Voucher Schools, but No Pledge on LGBT)

Even advocates for programs that did come out ahead, like the federal charter school program, weren’t pleased.

Lawmakers have proposed adding $28 million to the program, bringing it to $370 million for fiscal 2018. The program got an increase when most others were either cut or held flat, but the budget line remains far below the $500 million Trump requested.

“The allocation remains too low, and must be raised,” Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance for…

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