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Group seeks more funds for education bills

September 29, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

Leaders of Progressive Maryland, a grass-roots political organization, are traveling through the state over the next few weeks asking U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and members of Congress to increase funding for federal education bills.

Representatives of the group made a stop Wednesday in Hagerstown.

Progressive Maryland released a report on the state of education in Maryland, which found that the 2007 U.S. House appropriations bill for labor, health and human services, and education provides $1 billion less for education than in 2005, and $400 million less than in 2006.

The appropriations bill also cuts No Child Left Behind Act funding by $500 million from 2006 levels, according to the Progressive Maryland report.

Federal spending on education has increased every year that Bartlett has been in office, said Lisa Lyons Wright, Bartlett's press secretary.

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"They're not looking at dollars actually spent," Wright said.

Wright said Bartlett, R-Md., is a former educator, and donates some of his Congressional salary to scholarships for 6th District residents.

Progressive Maryland's report also looks at higher education.

According to the report, the average tuition and fees rose 90 percent at public four-year institutions over the decade ending in 2004-05, and Pell grants, a form of federal student aid, only cover 36 percent of the average charges at public four-year universities.

The 2007 appropriations bill increased an individual Pell grant by $100, to $4,150, the largest increase in five years, Wright said.

Progressive Maryland wants Bartlett to endorse the report and vote to restore funding levels, said Tony Passarelli, a community organizer for Progressive Maryland.

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