On May 7, President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2010 budget request, including $46.7 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of Education.
The request (an increase of $1.3 billion over last year’s regular appropriation) builds on the investments already made in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to give preschoolers the skills they need to prepare for kindergarten, turn-around under-performing schools, and improve teacher effectiveness.
It also significantly increases the federal government’s commitment to make college accessible and affordable to all students. Among the highlights:
-$500 million for a new program of Title I Early Childhood Grants, which would encourage school districts to use Title I funds under the ARRA to start or expand Title I preschool programs.
-$300 million for a new Early Learning Challenge Fund, a central component of the President’s Zero-to-Five initiative, to help states develop or refine systems for rating and improving the quality of early learning programs.
-$10 million for the Promise Neighborhoods initiative, to provide one-year planning grants to non-profit, community-based organizations to develop comprehensive neighborhood programs that supply the necessary support for children and youth from preschool through college.
-$162.5 million for Early Reading First, an increase of $50 million to expand support for high-quality, research-based early literacy services for preschool children.
-$370.4 million for an expanded Striving Readers program, with a $35 million increase for adolescent literacy demonstration grants and $300 million for a new initiative to help districts implement comprehensive and coherent programs of reading instruction for elementary school children.
-$517.3 million for the Teacher Incentive Fund, an increase of $420 million to stimulate state and local efforts to strengthen the educator workforce, in particular by providing financial rewards for teachers, principals, and other personnel who raise student achievement, close achievement gaps, and work in hard-to-staff schools.
-$1.5 billion for Title I Improvement Grants, an increase of $1 billion to help ensure that states and districts have the resources to develop and implement improvement plans for the growing numbers of schools (including middle and high schools) identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring.
-$50 million for a High School Graduation Initiative, to promote innovative strategies for increasing high school graduation rates, particularly in the “dropout factories” that graduate 60% or fewer of their students.
-Raising the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,550, an increase of $200 over the 2009 level, indexing the maximum Pell Grant to grow faster than inflation in future years, and making Pell Grant funding mandatory, to eliminate the perennial uncertainty created for students and parents.
-Saving $21 billion over five years by making all new higher education student loans through the Direct Loan program and saving $3.2 billion over five years by restructuring and expanding the Federal Perkins Loans program to serve five times as many students.
The request supports these priorities while proposing significant savings—abolishing 12 ineffective programs and cutting unnecessary personnel—that are essential to meeting the President’s goal of reducing the annual federal deficit in half over the next five years.
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Filed under: Education News on May 26th, 2009