Actor/Director Peter Horton to Testify before Funding Panel on Behalf of Committee for Education Funding and The Creative Coalition
Washington, D.C. (May 22, 2001) — The Creative Coalition member, Actor/Director Peter Horton, testified today before the House Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Mr. Horton’s testimony was on behalf of The Creative Coalition and the Committee for Education Funding (CEF).
“How we treat our children says more about us as a nation than any other singular issue,” testified Horton. “As a new father, I care deeply about the federal government assuring adequate funding for our children’s education. I want to make sure that not only my daughter, but every child in America will have the opportunity to have the best-qualified teachers, adequate facilities, a functional roof over their heads, state-of-the-art technology to increase awareness of the world around them and the opportunity to attend college.”
In his testimony, Mr. Horton outlined the challenges facing education. These challenges include rising enrollments at all levels, growing student needs, teacher shortages, inadequate facilities and more students seeking access to postsecondary education from low-income families. For example:
- At the elementary and secondary level, enrollments are projected to set new records every year, reaching over 54 million by 2006.
- Over the next ten years, schools must recruit two million new teachers.
- At least 30% of today’s students live in poverty.
- For higher education, enrollments have reached a record level of 14.6 million students, a jump of 12 percent in the last 10 years.
- Over the next decade, college enrollments are expected to continue to grow another 11 per cent, with one in five students coming from families below the poverty level.
- Four million college students currently come from low-income families.
- The number of children with disabilities receiving educational services rose by over 44 percent over the last decade and is now projected to total nearly 6.5 million students in 2002.
- The average age of public schools is over 43 years and half of all schools have inadequate wiring for computers and communications technology.
- Also, as immigration has grown, the number of children with limited English proficiency has increased by 66% between 1990 and 1996, from 2.1 million to 3.5 million, and continues to grow.
While the challenges facing education have been intensifying, the federal investment in education has actually declined as a share of the federal budget from 2.5% in 1980 to 2.1 % today.
“Both The Creative Coalition and the Committee for Education Funding recognize the emphasis President Bush has put on education reform,” Horton stated. “His budget provides some increases, but in total his budget provides only a 5.9% increase, the lowest percentage increase for education in six years and an amount insufficient to meet growing needs and calls for better results. Education reform without adequate resources to do the job becomes just an empty promise to our children.”
Mr. Horton also testified to the importance of CEF’s “Five Cents Makes Sense” campaign to boost federal funding from its current level of only two cents of every federal dollar to at least five cents within five years.
“With that budget, we could improve teacher training for all teachers and raise teacher salaries, reduce class size, serve all eligible disadvantaged children, fully fund education of students with disabilities, rebuild and repair thousands of out-dated, crumbling schools and expand access to college for millions of students. We could ensure that education truly has the resources needed to fulfill President Bush’s goal to ‘leave no child behind.’ A nickel on the dollar would go a long way toward providing the high quality education the American people demand and our nation’s students deserve.”
Founded in 1969, the nonpartisan Committee for Education Funding is the nation’s oldest and largest coalition of education organizations. Its mission is to achieve adequate federal financial support for the nation’s students.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE COALITION,br> The Creative Coalition is the leading nonprofit, nonpartisan social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance, primarily the First Amendment, arts advocacy, campaign finance reform and public education. Headquartered in New York City, The Creative Coalition also has offices in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Creative Coalition does not endorse or raise funds for political parties or candidates.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aaron Forester, the Committee for Education Funding
Kym Spell, The Creative Coalition