News Releases

Murray Provides Funding to Help Reduce Class Size for Early Grades

Oct 11 2001

$3 billion secured by Murray will support national effort to hire 100,000 new teachers, reduce class size to a national average of 18

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – For the third year in a row, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today secured sufficient funding to support the national effort to provide smaller classes in the early grades. Murray obtained more than $3 billion in federal funding for Teacher Quality grants within the Labor, Health and Human Services (Labor, HHS) Appropriations bill which passed the full Senate Appropriations Committee today. These grants will provide enough financial support to allow school districts to continue on the path of hiring 100,000 new teachers, reducing class size to a national average of 18.

"As a former teacher, I know it makes a difference if you have a 18 kids in a classroom instead of 35 – parents know it, teachers know it and students know it," Senator Murray said. "No child should have to struggle for a teacher's attention in an overcrowded classroom."

Murray first introduced class size reduction into the appropriations process four years ago and secured funding for a class size reduction program for the past three years. In previous years, federal education dollars have been specifically allocated to help reduce class sizes in the early grades. She has also advocated for smaller classes as a member of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee while debating the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The education bills passed in the House and Senate earlier this year, and now awaiting action in conference, combined funding for smaller classes and teacher quality into one funding stream.

By funding Teacher Quality grants by $3 billion, Murray has secured enough money to allow ongoing investment in smaller classes. The first year of federal class size reduction funds allowed schools to hire 29,000 new teachers. Last year's funding added another 8,000 teachers in school districts across the country. Research shows that this has a significant impact on student achievement, especially among disadvantaged students.

"Today, nearly 2 million students are learning in less crowded classrooms. But that is not enough," Murray said. "By funding the Teacher Quality grants at more than $3 billion we are telling parents, students and teachers that we are serious about investing in our children's education. I will continue to help communities provide smaller classes by ensuring sufficient funding in Congress."