Obama Administration 2015 Budget Prioritizes Key Education Investments to Provide Opportunities for All Americans

New proposals to address equity and expand opportunity, help teachers use technology in schools

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Press Office, (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov


The Obama administration continued to prioritize education in the 2015 budget released today by proposing key investments in education that would create opportunity for every child.

President Obama’s FY 2015 budget request for $69 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Education Department represents an increase of 2 percent over the previous year’s funding. The lion’s share of the 2015 request for preschool-12 programs — nearly 90 percent of discretionary spending — goes to formula funds that address the needs of disadvantaged poor and minority students, students with disabilities, and English learners.

“President Obama’s budget request reflects his strong belief that education is a vital investment in the nation’s economic competitiveness, in its people, and in its communities,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Despite the encouraging progress we’ve seen, wide opportunity and achievement gaps continue to hurt many families, which puts our nation’s economy and future at risk.”

As part of his budget request, President Obama proposed a new initiative called Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity (RTT-Opportunity), which would create incentives for states and school districts to drive comprehensive change in how states and districts identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps. Grantees would enhance data systems to sharpen the focus on the greatest disparities and invest in strong teachers and leaders in high-need schools. Grants would also support other strategies that mitigate the effects of concentrated poverty, such as expanded learning time, access to rigorous coursework, and comprehensive student supports. An underlying goal is to measure the success of these strategies and use the results to support continuous program improvement. Learn more about progress in ensuring equity of opportunity.

President Obama also proposed the new ConnectEDucators program that would provide funding to help teachers and principals better leverage new resources made available through technology to improve college- and career-ready instruction and to personalize learning. The President believes that all educators should have the resources and support they need, especially as they teach to more rigorous standards. Technology can help teachers and principals do this, but technology alone cannot improve student learning. Teachers and school leaders must know how to make the best use of technology - such as identifying high-quality digital content - and how to use data in order to help students learn. The program would provide more resources, including individualized support and opportunities for educators to collaborate around instruction so that students have personalized, rich learning opportunities that are aligned to rigorous standards. Learn more about the administration’s teachers and leaders plan.

“We must continue to invest in the reforms taking hold in classrooms across the country, led by the hard work of our educators,” Duncan said. “America’s public schools are the path to the middle class for children from hard-working families in every community, but too many students lack access to the quality education and supports that make the journey to college and the middle class possible.”

Continued Priorities for fiscal year 2015 budget:

  • Making quality preschool available for all 4-year-old - Opportunity for all also means ensuring all children have rich early learning experiences so they are better prepared to thrive in school. We know from decades of research that high-quality early learning can significantly improve long-term educational and life outcomes, especially for children from low-income families. Yet fewer than a third of the nation’s 4-year-olds are enrolled in high-quality preschool. In one of the boldest efforts to expand educational opportunity in the last 50 years, President Obama has committed to a historic new investment in preschool education that supports universal access to high-quality preschool for all 4-year olds from low- and moderate-income families and creates an incentive for states to serve additional middle-class children. The President’s budget request includes $1.3 billion in 2015 and $75 billion over 10 years in mandatory funding, along with $500 million for competitively awarded Preschool Development Grants and other funds. Learn more about Preschool for All.
  • Improving affordability, quality, and success in postsecondary education - Improving college access and completion is an economic necessity and a moral imperative. Few good career options exist for those whose education ends with high school, since most jobs that pay a middle-class salary require a college degree. College has long represented the surest route to the middle class—but too many Americans are being priced out of college. Nearly half of students who begin college in this country never finish and, for low-income students, their chance of graduating from college is less than one in ten. America once ranked first in college completion - we now rank twelfth. Reclaiming the top spot in college completion is essential for maximizing both individual opportunity and our economic prosperity, which is why the President has made increasing college affordability and improving college completion a major focus of his 2015 budget. Learn more about making college affordable and high-quality.
  • Making schools safer and creating positive learning environments - Schools are, generally, the safest places in America, but the nation’s conscience has been shocked by acts of horrific violence in schools. While these acts have changed communities forever, less dramatic moments of violence each day decrease students’ sense of security, which is essential to their healthy growth and learning. In response, the President’s plan to increase school safety and to decrease gun violence includes investments not only to prepare schools for emergencies, but also to create positive school climates and help children recover from the effects of living in communities plagued by persistent violence. In addition, new guidance from the Department aims to help schools address disproportionate rates of suspension and expulsion for minority and special-needs students. Learn more about school safety and about new guidance on school discipline.

To learn more about the budget, visit http://www.ed.gov/budget15