In fiscal years 1999 to 2001, Congress granted $2.5 billion to support state and local districts in their efforts to reduce class sizes. However, in fiscal year 2002, Congress did not provide funds specifically for decreasing class sizes. Now, federal finds are granted to support several educational programs in one lump sum.
Since that change, efforts to pass specific class-size reduction legislation has been consistently introduced in the House and Senate. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) finally succeeded in amending the FY 1999 education appropriations bill to include funding for class size reduction and continued this in subsequent appropriations and authorizations bills, including the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001. Unfortunately, Senator Murray’s amendment to the NCLB was not adopted, but this has not stopped further attempts to expand this program.
In the last Congress, Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) introduced new legislation entitled the “Leave No Child Behind Act of 2003”, S. 448, that included class-size reduction provisions. Congressman George Miller (D-CA) introduced similar legislation in the House. At the close of the 108th Congress, the Senate and House bills had 14 cosponsors and 96 cosponsors, respectively.
Also in the last Congress, Representative Kendrick Meek (D-FL) introduced the High-Quality Education Act (H.R. 3685) which would have provided funds to reduce class sizes in core curriculum classes. Representative David Wu (D-OR) also sponsored a piece of legislation to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to reduce class sizes by hiring more teachers. At the close of the 108th Congress, both of these bills had been referred to the House Subcommittee on Education Reform. We expect members of Congress to reintroduce similar legislation to reduce class sizes in the109th Congress.
Updated March 10, 2005