Senators Push for Expanded Analysis of Fed Spending on K-12 Education

February 4, 2020 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and John Boozeman, R-Ark., are among those joining in a bipartisan push to get the Education Department to expand its planned analysis of K-12 education spending to include dual and concurrent enrollment programs as well as early college high schools.

In their letter, the senators urged the department to examine utilization, outcomes and best practices of college in high school programs that receive funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The most recent reauthorization of ESEA – the Every Student Succeeds Act – passed on a bipartisan basis in 2015.

“As strong supporters of college in high school programs such as dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school programs, we write to urge the U.S. Department of Education to examine how school districts are using federal funding opportunities created by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to support increasing student access to high quality programs that promote academic success,” the senators wrote in a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

“ESSA recognizes the important roles that these college in high school programs can play in preparing students – particularly those from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds—for success in college and career. Through these programs, high school students gain exposure to the academic challenges of college, earning transcripted, transferable college credit often at reduced or no tuition cost,” they said.

The senators note that research studies have shown that these programs increase high school graduation, college readiness, and college access — especially for students traditionally underrepresented in higher education.

“An examination by the Department of school districts’ use of funds to support college in high school programs would be timely and help inform future policymaking to ensure more low-income and underrepresented students have access to these successful models,” they said.

In December, the Education Department announced its plan to analyze the dollars spent by 400 of the nation’s school districts on five programs (Part A of Titles I, II, III and IV of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and Title I, Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

This analysis would be the government’s first education spending study of its kind to occur since 2009.

In addition to the senators noted above, the letter was also signed by Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Cory Booker, D-N.J., John Boozman, R-Ariz., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Doug Jones, D-Ala., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Rob Portman, R-Ohio,  Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

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