AERA Urges Strong FY 2017 Funding for Agencies Supporting Education Research

March 2016

Even with a two-year budget agreement in place, the chances that appropriations bills for the 2017 fiscal year will be passed on a normal schedule are low. Not only is there the distraction of an election year, but the Senate is focused on the upcoming Supreme Court nomination fight, and House members are working to renegotiate agreed-upon topline budget numbers for FY 2017.

Nonetheless, AERA has been busy working with its coalition partners to urge strong support for agencies that fund education research for FY 2017, with a primary focus on funding for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The Friends of IES (FIES), of which AERA is a founding member, sent a letter to House and Senate appropriators calling on them to provide $728 million to IES for FY 2017, a $35 million increase over the administration’s request. Twenty-seven representatives also signed a letter encouraging appropriators to fund IES at the same level—$728 million.

As a member of the Coalition for National Science Funding, AERA signed a letter to congressional offices requesting $8 billion for FY 2017. While this amount is slightly higher than the administration’s request, it does not get NSF to the purchasing power that it had a decade ago. A “Dear Colleague” letter in support of $8 billion for NSF was signed by 143 members of Congress.

AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine submitted written testimony on the importance of increasing NSF funding to relevant House and Senate appropriations subcommittees.

Last year during the House appropriations negotiations, report language reduced NSF spending on social and behavioral sciences by 16%. The report language was later modified to flat funding.

This year, the scientific community and supporters of the National Science Foundation are seeking support for a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter to subcommittee appropriators asking the subcommittee leaders to “reaffirm the National Science Foundation’s current practice of setting national scientific research priorities, investing across all disciplines of science, and using the merit review systems for determining which grant proposals to fund.”

The community has been working diligently to bring attention to this issue and was pleased to hear Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, bring attention to the issue during a budget hearing with NSF Director France Córdova. The community was also encouraged by a recent article in Science Magazine describing the growing appreciation that Rep. John Culberson, chair of the science appropriations subcommittee, has for the importance of NSF itself determining funding levels for its directorates.

In addition to the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation, AERA tracks and supports funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with a particular interest in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). As a member of the Friends of NICHD, AERA supports the budget request for $1.44 billion for NICHD; AERA also supports the community request for $34.5 billion for NIH.

On April 8, more than 50 AERA members will visit congressional offices and have the opportunity to talk about the important contributions of education research and to communicate AERA’s support for federal agencies supporting education research.

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