[AAACE-NLA] When federal cuts scrape bare bones
jeffcrtr at gmail.com
Tue Jul 17 15:34:07 EDT 2012
Following up on my own message, it just so happens that the House Appropriations Committee today released their draft fiscal year 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) appropriations bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The bill does in fact propose to basically eliminate CNCS (with the exception of one program), as expected. Specifically, according to the Committee's press release:
"The bill includes $271 million for CNCS, which will support the National Senior Volunteer Programs within CNCS. This funding will also provide for the orderly elimination of other CNCS programs." (my emphasis) "Other programs" would include AmeriCorps.
While this bill is unlikely to ever be passed into law in its entirely, it's still important because it reflects the initial position that the Republican majority in the House is taking with respect to CNCS as negotiations on a final FY 2013 budget go forward. This is why I think, as I mentioned below, control of the Senate becomes so important, for this issue as well as many others.
P.S. It *appears* that the House has level-funded the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA, i.e. Title II of WIA) in this bill, but I can't be sure without looking at the funding table and committee report, which has not been released -- or at least, I don't have access to it. Perhaps someone else can confirm.
But the bill itself is here: <http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-112hr-sc-ap-fy13-laborhhsed.pdf>
On Jul 17, 2012, at 9:19 AM, Jeff Carter wrote:
> Thank you for the pointer to that story, and for noting the loss of Literacy*Americorps in the context of federal advocacy. I just wanted to make a couple of clarifying points because I think they are important in terms of thinking about this loss from an advocacy perspective.
> First, as the article notes, it's important to understand that the program was not eliminated due to a congressional funding cut. Congress basically level-funded CNCS in the last federal budget. The problem, as the article notes, was that CNCS "shifted its priorities" for this funding round. It was made very explicit going in that adult literacy was not a priority area this round. (Literacy*Americorps, like all Americorps grants, has to re-apply for the grant from CNCS every few years - technically, it was not even a renewal, but treated like a brand new application). It could be that this shift in priorities was in response to pressure from Congress -- I don't know, but it would be good to find out. (I also understand that there were a record number of applications for national grants this year, so the competition was fiercer than ever.)
> The point being: while I think it's really, really critical to constantly be pointing out the loss of any adult literacy resources to members of Congress, (assuming, unlike D.C., you have voting representation in Congress), the loss of Literacy*AmeriCorps was not the result of congressional budget cutting. So the advocacy questions that I think those of us in this field should be asking are: *why* is adult literacy no longer a priority for national service at CNCS? How do we make it a priority? Does it involve directly advocating with CNCS? The administration? Or Congress? Or both?
> Secondly, while there is no question that the loss of Literacy*Americorps is significant, not just in terms of the numbers served (in the District our program served about 3000 learners annually) but also symbolically, (as the only national AmeriCorps grant dedicated to adult literacy), it's also important to remember that there are still thousands of AmeriCorps members around the country serving as adult literacy instructors through local and state programs. So I think you are absolutely right in pointing out the significance of AmeriCorps funding in our field -- when I was at ProLiteracy, I discovered that many ProLiteracy members had AmeriCorps members serving at their organizations through state and local programs -- and we need to continue to pay attention to the CNCS budget as the FY 2013 federal budget process sputters it's way through Congress this year. And it's another reason to pay attention to this year's elections: the Republicans in the House would like to eliminate AmeriCorps and CNCS altogether; if they also win control of the Senate and the White House, it's practically a certainly in my mind that CNCS will be eliminated next year. This would likely have even more widespread impact on our field than the loss of the Literacy*AmeriCorps program.
> Jeff Carter
> D.C. LEARNs
> Washington D.C.'s Literacy Coalition
> www.dclearns.org | Twitter: @DCLEARNs
> Selected for the 2009-2010 Catalogue for Philanthropy
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> On Jul 16, 2012, at 9:41 AM, David Rosen wrote:
>> Although there are many examples of how federal budget cuts have compromised even conservative values, one that hasn't received much attention is Literacy*AmeriCorps.
>> In his inaugural address on January 20, 1989, President George H.W. Bush said:
>> I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good. We will work hand in hand, encouraging, sometimes leading, sometimes being led, rewarding. We will work on this in the White House, in the Cabinet agencies. I will go to the people and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I will ask every member of my government to become involved. The old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thousand_points_of_light
>> AmeriCorps is a national service organization that was started in 1994, near the end of the first term of President George W. Bush. It is funded with grants from the Corporation for National and Community Service that are provided by the federal government. It pays poverty level stipends to volunteers who perform community service. The Literacy*AmeriCorps national program has been administered by the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council (GPLC), which is also a national leader in adult education and family literacy. Local organizations have managed the program in each of its seven cities: Pittsburgh, PA ; Austin, TX; Dayton, OH; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Seattle, WA; and Washington, DC. GPLC has overseen and monitored each local program. Effective at the end of July, AmeriCorps funding for this program has been eliminated, and these programs will close.
>> An article on Friday, July 13th, in the Seattle Times http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2018684334_americorpsliteracy.html , describes how the loss of the Literacy*AmeriCorps national program will affect its unlucky English language adult learners:
>> • More than a dozen literacy and basic English language programs in King County will lose their AmeriCorps volunteers
>> • An estimated 4,000 adult learners don't know how they will be able to continue to learn English and basic literacy
>> The numbers of affected adult learners is significant, although relatively small when compared with the vast number of disenfranchised adult learners in California, where English language-focused adult schools have received mammoth cuts, or have faced elimination.
>> What stands out for me is that this eliminates a program that supports volunteers trying to help immigrants who need to learn English and/or learn to read. Aren't encouraging volunteers and supporting those who want to learn English and literacy conservative values any more? It looks like this will be the Congress known for blowing out the Points of Light.
>> David J. Rosen
>> djrosen123 at gmail.com
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