Dear ACTFL Organizational Members:
Congress and the White House are putting the final touches on details of the budget cuts for the current fiscal year. The picture is not good for a number of education programs, including foreign language education. I have attached a list of program cuts provided by the National Education Association that includes all of the Department of Education cuts. What is different about this budget plan is that the U.S. Department of Education will have final determination of the exact funding cuts for those line item programs NOT specified in the legislation. The Department has 30 days after enactment of the legislation to submit its detail of cuts to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The cuts listed for Title VI - International Education and Foreign Languages total $50 million, but the legislation does not specify exactly which programs are cut. Thus the U.S. Department of Education must specify where those cuts will come from 30 days after the bill is signed by the President. This is a devastating cut to Title VI, which may lead to staffing and program cuts at universities with Title VI programs in critical languages, as well as resource centers.
FLAP was excluded from any specific cuts. However, once all of the specific cuts are made then all programs will be reduced by an across-the-board .2% cut.
Also of note:
Funding for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is eliminated. The only potentially positive news here is that NBPTS will be able to compete for funding from a competitive grants fund, which includes several other programs. As you know, many foreign language educators have attained their NBPTS certification. Officials with NBPTS say that they intend to continue operation and increase their efforts to obtain private funding for their operations. While the federal funds only provide a portion of their operating income, NBPTS will be severely hampered in its operations, which may set back further our efforts to open up NBPTS certification to more foreign language teachers.
STEM BA and Masters foreign language teacher training cut $2.2 million – program eliminated. The one bright spot in the STEM program for foreign languages – teacher training – has been eliminated.
As you look at the pitifully small amount of funding foreign languages receives through the Department of Education programs, these cuts are shocking and tell us that we have a long way to go to build a constituency with influence in Congress. We will re-double our efforts to focus attention on the fact that foreign languages are not yet a priority for policymakers. We need to work that much harder to gain support for foreign language provisions in future legislation such as the Elementary Secondary Education Act. Of course, we will be talking with the U.S. Department of Education about the specific cuts they intend to make in Title VI of the Higher Education Act, and we will continue monitoring the status of FLAP.
We have a lot of work ahead of us to regain the ground lost with these budget cuts. One way you can help is to continue to contact your Representatives and ask them to demonstrate their support for foreign language education by cosponsoring the Holt/Tonko bill, H.R. 6036. The bill has not yet been introduced in the new Congress, but you can ask that they contact Congressman Holt and sign on to the bill as a cosponsor when it is reintroduced this year. Representative Holt is preparing to introduce the bill and can add cosponsors now. You can go to our website for details of the legislation and instructions on making contact at http://www.actfl.org/i4a/headlines/headlinedetails.cfm?id=299
Thank you for your continued support and adocacy efforts for language education!
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
1001 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Ph: (703) 894-2900 Fx: (703) 894-2905