Last week Congress passed and now President Biden has signed into law the final spending package that funds federal programs and services through September 2022. National PTA President Anna King issued the following statement on the bill:
“National PTA is pleased that the omnibus includes an increase of $2.3 billion in funding for U.S. Department of Education programs and an increase of $11.3 billion for Health and Human Services programs. Among the Department of Education programs, the bill includes an increase of $1 billion for Title I to assist schools serving low-income families and an increase of $406 million for the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The bill also includes an increase of $2.5 million over the fiscal year 2021 level for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program which provides much-needed technical assistance and partnership development to states and school districts to foster meaningful engagement. Additionally, the bill includes an increase of $60 million for Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (Title IV-A) and $111 million for programs designed to increase the availability of mental health services in schools, including by expanding training programs to prepare new school counselors, social workers and psychologists. These increases are important steps to addressing the mental health crisis facing our children and families, supporting students most in need, and helping ensure children learn in healthy and safe environments and receive a well-rounded education.
“In addition to the increases for education programs, National PTA supports the inclusion of $50 million for a Community-Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative through the U.S. Department of Justice and applauds the inclusion of $1 million that may be used for the National Institute of Justice to continue to develop a model and best practices for comprehensive school safety, including identifying the root causes of violence in schools. However, we are disappointed the bill does not include an investment in public health approaches to reducing community violence and trauma by funding Community Violence Intervention research and data through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) specifically. Community-driven, evidence-based interventions are critical to addressing the gun and school safety epidemic we continue to face as a country, and we will continue to advocate for the vital role CDC can and should play in this work.
“We are also disappointed that the bill does not include an extension of authority to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue critical school meal administrative waivers that have been in place throughout the pandemic, allowing schools for the first time to serve free meals to all students regardless of income. The flexibility has allowed an additional 10 million students to eat free meals at school each day. We know that students cannot learn without adequate nutrition, and no child should have to go hungry.
“National PTA commends Congress and the Administration for coming together and reaching a bipartisan agreement that increases federal funding for education and health and human services programs. While the increases are positive, federal funding for education programs in FY22 will still be almost $6 billion below the 2011 level. National PTA remains committed to advocating to make sure every child has the opportunities and supports they need to thrive in school and reach their fullest potential. We urge everyone to join us in our efforts—and particularly for our upcoming Hill Day Experience as part of our 125th Anniversary Convention—as we are louder and stronger together.”