As an AOTA Federal Lobbyist, much of my job centers on advocating for occupational therapy practitioners working in the public schools. We have heard from you how cuts to education funding have affected hiring and caseloads. With the 2018 mid-term election nearly behind us, let’s look at a few trends, and how they will impact school funding in the future.
The first is the number of educators who ran for office and won. According to the National Education Association (NEA) nearly 1,800 educators ran in 2018, which is just a huge number. These educators include Congresswoman-elects Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Jahana Hayes (D-CT) who will take the Congressional oath of office in January. AOTA hopes to use the excitement over education that compelled these and others to help build on the success of the last education funding bill, passed in September, to ensure students receive the supports they need.
Possibly even more impressive was the number of educator candidates on the state level. Four of the principals who participated in the Oklahoma walkouts to protest inadequate state funds for educators, including school based occupational therapy practitioners, won Oklahoma state legislature seats. AOTA has been working to address the serious problem the nation faces with the lack of education funding.
As for the voters, when given the chance they supported increased funding for both education and the educators. There were 15 funding initiatives on the ballots across the nation, 11 of which the voters favored. These approved ballot initiatives mean at least $884 million in additional state funding for education.
There is still work to do to ensure adequate funding for education. This includes getting full funding of the Student Support and Enrichment Grant, or the Title IV-A grant in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); pushing for robust funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; and responding to other funding opportunities. Follow along with the latest alerts, and sign up for our legislative email list.
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