Senate Democrats

President Obama’s Budget Request Builds on Investments in Education

With a continued focus on economic recovery, the Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request looks to increase investments in our nation’s children.  The Budget Request includes additional funding for effective programs that support children through every stage of their education.  Congress will take these recommendations under consideration as it works to complete the Fiscal Year 2011 budget and appropriations processes.

Building on Investments in American Education

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included nearly $100 billion to help states and school districts address budget shortfalls during the economic crisis and continue to improve education quality.  Since the Recovery Act was signed into law one year ago, the Department of Education has obligated more than $37 billion in State Fiscal Stabilization Funds to provide states with the emergency relief necessary to keep teachers in the classroom and address urgent education needs.  An additional $22.2 billion was allocated through formula programs to assist low-income and special needs students through Title I and IDEA.  More than $30 billion in Recovery Act funds have been awarded, which saved or created more than 300,000 education jobs, prevented or reduced tuition increases at colleges and universities across the nation, and laid the groundwork for education reform.

The President’s Budget Request aims to build on these important investments, recommending a $3.5 billion increase in discretionary spending, compared to Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations, to invest in programs that show results and to reward successful, innovative strategies.  The bulk of this funding is focused on an historic, $3 billion increase in funding requested for K-12 education programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). 

Supporting Students and Rewarding What Works

“Race to the Top.”  The Budget Request reflects the President’s commitment to supporting proven, effective programs, especially those best practices generated by schools and teachers.  The President’s Budget Request recommends $1.35 billion to expand the “Race to the Top” program.  Though funding authorized by the Recovery Act, “Race to the Top” has fostered competition among states by offering grants to states and school districts that are ready for comprehensive reform.  The program aims to help generate higher academic standards and improve teacher effectiveness, especially in under-performing schools.

Supporting Student Success.  The Budget Request includes a $1.8 billion initiative to improve student performance in school by supporting students beyond the classroom.  The initiative includes $210 million for Promise Neighborhoods, modeled after the successful Harlem Children’s Zone, to combine classroom education with health and social services, particularly in at-risk neighborhoods.  The Budget Request also recommends $1.2 billion for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which the Administration proposes to reauthorize, that would expand the time children spend on academic and enrichment activities.  For Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students, the Budget Request proposes $410 million to combine several existing programs focusing on drug and alcohol use prevention and physician and mental health to ensure students are ready to learn.

Supporting Effective Teachers and School Leaders

Excellent Instructional Teams.  The Budget Request recommends $3.9 billion, an increase of $350 million, for a new program – Excellent Instruction Teams – which combines several existing programs with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness of teachers and principals.  This new initiative includes $2.5 billion for the Effective Teachers and Leaders program, which helps states ensure that effective, driven teachers and principals work throughout the system, especially disadvantaged schools; $950 million for a new Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund, to incentivize teachers and school leaders to work in schools most in need; and $405 million for Teacher and Leader Pathways, a new program to support new entry points into teaching, nearly three times more funding than existing programs with the same goal received in Fiscal Year 2010.

Effective Teaching and Learning.  Included in the Budget Request is over $1 billion in funding for new Effective Teaching and Learning programs, targeting literacy, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and all other aspects of a well-rounded education. 

Preparing Students for College and Career

Education for the Disadvantaged.  The President’s Budget Request recommends $14.5 billion for programs under Title I, Part A program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which the Administration proposes to reauthorize and re-name College and Career ready Students.  These funds will support statewide systems working to meet the goal that all students graduate high school college- and career-ready and rewarding the schools that make significant progress in this area.

Special Education Grants.  The Budget Request includes $11.8 billion, a $250 million increase to IDEA programs from Fiscal Year 2010, to help states and schools provide children with disabilities greater opportunities for educational success.

Opening the Door to Higher Education

Pell Grants.  The Budget Request proposes to increase the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,710 per student, which would reach an estimated 8.7 million students during the 2011-12 academic year.  The President’s budget also proposes to an annual index of the consumer price index (CPI) plus one percentage point for the award amount.   Finally, the Budget Request proposes to reclassify Pell Grants as mandatory spending rather than subject to annual appropriations.

Perkins Loan Program.  The Budget Request proposes an expanded and modernized Perkins Loan program, with nearly $6 billion per year in new loan volume for 2.4 million students across the country. 

Transition to Direct Lending.  The Budget Request supports legislation pending in Congress to shift origination of student loans from the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program to the Direct Loan program administered by the Department of Education.  Currently, under the FFEL program, the federal government provides subsidies to financial institutions, costing taxpayers billions of dollars.  Moving all loans to the Direct Loan program would take advantage of low-cost and stable sources of capital and private-sector provides and would save an estimated $78 billion over the next ten years.  These funds will be reinvested in programs to increase access to college, such as expanded Pell Grants and a new American Graduation Initiative, with a goal of graduating five million more students by 2020.

College Access and Completion.  The Budget Request also proposes additional funding for college access programs.  These programs include the College Access and Completion Fund, the American Graduation Initiative, and an income-based repayment system.  These funds will reduce the burden of loan payments and help students prepare for, access, and graduate from college.