Merkley, Bonamici lead efforts in support of IES appropriations

As Congress considers appropriations for FY22, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) have led efforts to secure funding for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

On June 4, Sen. Merkley, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and fifteen additional senators sent a letter to the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies of the Senate Appropriations Committee urging the committee to appropriate $700 million for the IES. The letter states, “IES received an increase in funds in FY2021, but some programs are still operating at funding levels lower than in years past. IES research has produced great results, but it has been highly constrained by limited investment. For example, for every ten applications that IES receives, including those received by National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER), only one is funded...This means many pressing questions, including questions regarding school safety, serving non-traditional student populations, and creating affordable pathways for good paying jobs, remain unanswered.”

The Senate letter follows an April 28 letter sent to leaders of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee also requesting $700 million for IES. Congresswoman Bonamici and Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) were lead signers, and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) joined 28 others as additional signatories. The letter states, “IES has an important role to play in hastening the educational recovery necessary from the COVID-19 pandemic…Even with the increases to programs within the IES budget over the past few years, the investment in IES has not caught up to account for lost purchasing power during the past decade. With these funding constraints, the ability of IES to foster new and innovative ideas to drive success in our schools and better instructional practices for our teachers has been severely reduced. This especially harms disadvantaged students by limiting the use of evidence necessary for them to learn and succeed.”

UO’s College of Education is one of the top recipients of IES funding among public universities. The college’s Special Education program, which includes faculty who receive NCSER funding, is the third highest ranked graduate program of it’s kind in the nation.

Friends of IES also sent a letter, which the UO signed, to House and Senate Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations subcommittee leaders on March 23 requesting at least $700 million for the IES in FY22.