Want to receive the Alliance for Student Liberty newsletter every other week? Sign up here.

Across the country, school districts are making tough choices about what programs to cut as pandemic relief funding will soon expire. Teachers, tutors, summer educators, and other essential staff and programs are all on the chopping block. The looming cliff represents the biggest drop in federal education funding in years, and students and teachers across the country are feeling it deeply. Combined with the push for vouchers that divert money from public schools and high levels of inflation, the drop in funding will create financial turbulence for schools. 

On top of those loses, some members of Congress are actively working to make things harder for the most underserved students. In the House appropriations bill, lawmakers propose a 25% cut to Title I, our main federal funding source for schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families. These lawmakers justify their actions by citing declining test scores despite increases to Title I and federal school funding throughout the pandemic.   

Studies consistently show that education funding matters for student achievement and fighting long-standing inequities, especially for low-income students. Increased school spending also shows direct correlation to a lower risk of adult poverty and higher wages in the future. Of course, results depend on how much money is spent, how many years this increased funding is present, and where exactly the funding goes. What lawmakers miss in their efforts to cut Title I is that pandemic funds were provided to minimize the damage caused by school closures, not to increase test scores. These measures were put in place to supplement schools with tutoring and programs to make up for the extreme levels of learning loss that occurred during the pandemic.  

Punishing students and teachers for low test-scores will only exacerbate the problem. If House appropriators are looking to improve test scores, they must follow the data, which points to increasing — and sustaining — education funding to ensure lower student-to-teacher ratios, increased teacher and support staff salaries, and longer school years.  

North Carolina: In North Carolina, educators, parents, and community members called for increased funding for Buncombe County Schools before the Buncombe County Commission voted on the Fiscal Year 2024 budget. The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) organized a “Save Our Schools” rally that took place in Asheville, N.C. on June 6. At the rally, Buncombe County Association of Educators President Shanna Peele said “For years, we’ve had to do more and more with less and less. We’re at a critical juncture where we can’t continue to wait on a state government that’s not sending money or help any time soon.” 

Maryland: In Maryland, teachers and parents rallied in opposition to the proposed $30 million cut to Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) funding for next year. Educators cited concerns about the decrease in funding leading to staff cuts, increased class sizes, and cuts to special needs programs for children with autism. Jennifer Martin, president of the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) called the budget proposal a “bare-bones request” and said “children are going to be getting less next year than they do now, and less than they deserve.” 

The Network for Public Education created a Toolkit: School Privatization Explained that provides updated information on school vouchers, charter schools, and other forms of school privatization.   

Learning for Justice published an article titled Advocating for Honest History Education that lists resources and ways parents and caregivers can advocate for their children to be taught honest and accurate history lessons in their schools.