by Bob Berkman
May 19, 2023
Funding strong in FY 2024; though end of ESSER monies and social concerns remain challenges
Rockville, MD, May 19, 2023 — The PreK-12 education financial landscape looks optimistic for fiscal year 2024 with key PreK-12 programs receiving funding at the same level as in 2023 and with a few notable increases in key areas. In the just published PreK-12 Policy and Budget Outlook 2023-2024 released May 2023, Simba Information found that federal appropriations for education in fiscal 2023 (i.e., the 2022-2023 school year) generally grew across the board with most key programs seeing increases, a trend that is expected to continue in fiscal year 2024. The presidential budget for PreK-12 education calls for an increase in several programs due to potential threats to the US economy and the end of the $189.5 billion in pandemic era ESSER funding.
To address the end of ESSER funding and address rising costs, equity issues, and other factors, several states are currently looking at addressing their funding formulas. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed into law a bill overhauling the state’s funding formula in May of 2022, and several other states are considering the same path.
The PreK-12 Policy and Budget Outlook 2023-2024 report details the data and trends in PreK-12 funding education. One such trend is the rise of school choice bills as at least 32 states currently offer some sort of tax-funded school choice program. These programs provide $4 billion to 690,000 students through education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships, or tuition vouchers during the 2022-2023 school year, and 34 states have introduced proposals to launch or expand these programs.
Also covered in the report are curriculum restrictions and book bans. From January 2021 to January 2023, 18 states enacted restrictions regarding the teaching of race and gender issues. A bill called the Combating Racist Teaching in Schools Act (the CRT Act) would ban the teaching of “race-based theories” at the federal level and withhold funding for infractions. The topics that have become restricted among some states and districts includes gender; social-emotional learning; and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Despite these restrictions, other states have seen a rise in the teaching of courses on Black and Native American studies.
In addition to examining funding and policy trends, the report examines gaps in connectivity and the increase in cybersecurity attacks. Progress has been made in increasing connectivity nationwide, but only 67% of US school districts met FCC benchmarks for internet connectivity in 2022. A growth in cybersecurity attacks has occurred as well—The K12 Security Information Exchange, a nonprofit group, estimated in its 2022 Annual Report that school districts in the US had endured 1,331 cyberattacks between 2016 and 2021.
Rounding out the key issues covered in the report are: teacher dissatisfaction; political divisions on academic policies; increased gun violence incidence; and trends in federal & state funding.
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