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Obama Proposes Increase in Support for K-12 Schools

February 17, 2011

On Tuesday, President Obama proposed a 2012 Department of Education budget that would – if approved – increase overall federal spending for K-12 public schools, as well as making cuts in some education programs.

The Obama Administration proposal came during a year when the federal government is cutting funds in many areas.  “These are very tough choices but with rising demand, we have to stretch our dollars as far as possible and do more with less,” Duncan said.

Highlights of the Obama Administration’s proposed budget include:

  1. $350 million for a new Early Learning Challenge Fund to boost quality or early learning programs.
  2. $900 million for a district-level Race to the Top program with a rural set-aside.
  3. $300 million for a new round of i3 (Investing in Innovation) grants.
  4. $500 million more for Title I (for low-income students) and IDEA (for students with disabilities) formula programs.
  5. $150 million for the Promise Neighborhoods program, which integrates educational and social services in targeted communities.
  6. $100 million more for after school programs (21st Century Community Learning Centers) for a total of $1.27B.
  7. $54 million more ($600 million total) to turn around low-performing schools
  8. $4.3 billion for teacher and principal preparation programs. This includes formula grants to states, alternative certification programs, STEM teacher prep programs, funds to support a well-rounded education, minority teacher recruiting programs and scholarships for high-achieving students to work in high-need schools.
  9. $90 million for a new education research and development program and $60 million more for research and evaluation programs.

“These targeted funding increases reflect the administration's competitiveness agenda and our continuing commitment to protect students most at risk while supporting reform at the state and local level," Duncan said.

The federal Title 1 program, which channels supplemental money nationwide to local school districts to help them educate disadvantaged children, would receive $14.8 billion , an increase of about $300 million over 2010.

Elsewhere, the proposed budget would eliminate 13 programs that will save $147 million next year. The Administration also wants to cut $265 million in career and technical education (CTE) grants. States will still receive $1 billion in CTE grants next year as well as $3.1 billion for Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants and $635 million for Adult Education grants.

“(CTE) is vitally important to America's future but we need to strengthen and reform our programs before expanding them,” Duncan said.

Whether the President’s budget proposal will be supported by a majority in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives and the Democrat-dominated Senate remains to be seen.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, commented “We are grateful that President Obama’s education budget reflects a continuing commitment to improving our public schools. A strong economy and a strong public school system are inextricably linked and the president understands that support for education is an investment in our children and the future of our nation.”

Weingarten added, “We are mindful that the modest proposed increase for education is part of an overall budget that freezes most discretionary spending and makes cuts that will be painful for many Americans, at a time when poverty rates are rising and unemployment still remains too high.”

Source:  : The White House, American Federation of Teachers, EdBrief staff.