|Increased Education Spending in Federal Budget|
|posted by: Alix | February 17, 2011, 03:38 PM|
This week President Obama outlined the federal budget at a middle school in Baltimore. While he discussed the scope of the entire federal budget, education was a major focus. Obama called for increased spending for education programs despite the call for cuts from congressional Republicans.
If approved, federal spending for public schools will increase significantly, and the maximum federal Pell grant will remain constant at $5,550 per college student. Obama's education proposal asks for $77.4 billion, a 4 percent increase from the 2010 budget.
The cornerstone of the spending centers around the Race to the Top campaign that last year gave $4 billion worth of stimulus funding to various states for enacting school reforms. The 2012 budget proposal includes $900 million for Race to the Top, which the administration says would be awarded this time not to states but to school districts.
The administration's education proposal also includes $600 million for School Turnaround Grants, a $54 million increase above 2010 levels. The turnaround program, which the Department of Education hopes will finance overalls of thousands of the country's poor performing schools, was also financed with billions in economic stimulus money.
Another program that will see increased funding under the proposed budget is Title I, which channels money to school districts to help them educate disadvantaged children, would receive $14.8 billion, an increase of $300 million over 2010.
The proposed spending comes on the heels of recent education rhetoric, culminating at the State of the Union with a call to increase our "investment" in education. Obama has pushed to take advantage of this "Sputnik moment" to increase our college graduation rate and renew our commitment to the STEM subjects to ensure American success in a changing global economy.
Obama and his administration are experiencing significant push-back from congressional Republicans who warn that we cannot afford to increase spending for any department.
Among the many cuts proposed by the Republicans, is a $1.1 billion cut from the Head Start program, which, according to estimates by the National Head Start Association, would eliminate services for children and eliminate positions within the Head Start organization.
Reacting to the administration's budget, Congressman John Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, indicated a reluctance increased education spending.
"Over the last 45 years we have increased our investment in education, but the return on that investment has failed to improve student achievement," Congressman Kline argued. "Throwing more money at our nation's broken education system ignores reality and does a disservice to students and taxpayers."
Both the Obama administration and congressional Republicans are sure to clash in the coming weeks with the push to approve the budget. While cutting education funding can be painful, spending at stimulus levels and beyond is admittedly not sustainable by both Republicans and Democrats.
What are your thoughts on the education budget? Is this a wise use of tax-payer dollars?