What Gifted Advocates Need to Know About the Federal Budget

David Cutler, NAGC Director of Government Relations & Public Affairs

Well, it’s the most wonderful time of the year here in Washington, DC! No, not the holiday season, but budget season! For those keeping track at home, the Federal Government has been operating on a continuing resolution since September 1, 2021--the end of the fiscal year for the government--and like the status of most of my library books as a kid, a new federal budget has been long overdue.

If you aren’t already familiar with the term, a continuing resolution means that the government continues to operate as usual, but all programs receive the exact same amount of funding as the previous fiscal year. For example, even though the fiscal calendar turned to FY22 on September 1, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education continued to receive funding at the FY21 level until a new budget agreement could be reached by Congress. It’s a little complicated and definitely annoying but I’m here to break it all down for you like the Kool-Aid man breaks down walls.

The good news for our gifted and talented children and their educators is that Congress finally agreed on a FY22 budget a few weeks ago and President Biden signed it into law on March 15. The even better news is that it includes increases for major federally funded programs that impact these children and their educators. The highlights include:

  • $14.5 million for the Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act, a $1 million increase. The Javits Act focuses resources on identifying and serving students who are traditionally underrepresented in gifted and talented programs, particularly historically marginalized, economically disadvantaged, English learners, and students with disabilities, to help reduce gaps in achievement and to encourage the establishment of equal educational opportunities for all students.
  • $17.5 billion for Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act, a $1 billion increase. Title I funding provides supplemental funding to schools with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students and allows for funding to be used to identify and serve gifted and talented students. 
  • $2.2 billion for Title II for the Every Student Succeeds Act, a $27 million increase. Title II funding helps to fund professional development and allows funding to be used to help teachers better identify and serve gifted and talented students.

Funding for all other federally managed education programs can be found in the full budget, along with explanations, on the House Appropriations Committee's website.

Now that Congress has settled the FY22 budget, where does that leave us? Well, if you absolutely love budget tables and appendices, you will be thrilled to know that we are right back the start of the process, with the president’s budget request! If you don’t love budget tables, all I can say is that I’m slightly jealous of you right now.

Earlier this week, President Biden released his FY23 budget request. Among other funding requests, the president is asking Congress for $36.5 billion for Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which would constitute a $19 billion increase over FY22, a $5.5 million increase to Title II-A of ESSA, which funds teacher and administrator training and development, and $1.1 billion to support English learners at the K12 level, a 35% increase over the current fiscal year.

Sadly, however, the president also requested a decrease in funding to the Javits grant program for FY23. I do believe that the White House meant to level-fund Javits, since they were going off the FY21 funding levels when they created their budget proposal (remember how late Congress was to the budget party?), but whether it’s a small decrease or keeping funding the same, the president’s Javits request is quite disappointing.

So, what can you do? Remember, the president can only request funding, it’s up to Congress to authorize it. Currently, there are “Dear Colleague” letters circulating in Congress, one in the House and one in the Senate. These letters highlight the importance of Javits grants and ask members of each chamber to sign-on in support of the “highest possible” funding for Javits in FY23. NAGC is asking its advocates to call, e-mail and/or meet with their members of Congress to ask them to sign on to the Javits Dear Colleague letter! If you aren’t sure who your member of Congress, please use this helpful directory.

While we are far from the finish line for the FY23 budget, it’s never too early to advocate for our gifted and talented children! Be sure to follow NAGC on social media, and if you haven’t already, please join the Advocacy and Policy Discussion Group on NAGC Engage for the latest updates on the federal budget.