Education Budget Makes Tough Choices to Allow for New Investments in Early Learning, Reform and Innovation, Teachers and Leaders, and College Completion

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Education Budget Makes Tough Choices to Allow for New Investments in Early Learning, Reform and Innovation, Teachers and Leaders, and College Completion

February 14, 2011

Deep cuts and efficiencies in several key education programs will help fund new education investments to keep American students competitive in the global economy under the proposed 2012 Obama administration education budget. The President released the budget at a Baltimore public school on Monday, February 14.

"We are cutting where we can to invest where we must," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who joined President Obama for the announcement. "These are challenging times, but we can't delay investments that will secure our future. We must educate our way to a better economy by investing responsibly, advancing reform and demanding results."

Areas for new investment run the spectrum from early learning to college completion, and include funding for formula and competitive K-12 programs, including a new district-level Race to the Top program with a rural set-aside and another round of Investing in Innovation grants. The budget also includes new and expanded programs that support teacher and principal effectiveness.

Not including Pell Grants, the administration's 2012 budget request for the Department of Education is $48.8 billion, an increase of $2 billion or 4.3% over the 2011 budget, which was not approved by Congress and is being funded through continuing resolutions.

The Department expects demand for Pell grants to reach 9.6 million students next year, up from 6 million in 2008. The President's budget protects recent increases in the maximum grant to $5,550 while ensuring that all eligible students continue to be served.

In order to sustain the program in a responsible way, the Administration proposes saving billions by eliminating subsidies for graduate students with loans and eliminating a provision that enables some students to receive two Pell grants in a single year.

"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.

In addition to eliminating 13 programs that will save $147 million next year, the Administration will 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.

"Career education is vitally important to America's future but we need to strengthen and reform our programs before expanding them," Duncan said.

Other highlights of the budget include:

  • $350 million for a new Early Learning Challenge Fund to boost quality or early learning programs.
  • $900 million for a district-level Race to the Top program with a rural set-aside.
  • $300 million for a new round of i3 (Investing in Innovation) grants.
  • $500 million more for Title I (for low-income students) and IDEA (for students with disabilities) formula programs.
  • $150 million for the Promise Neighborhoods program, which integrates educational and social services in targeted communities.
  • $100 million more for after school programs (21st Century Community Learning Centers) for a total of $1.27B.
  • $54 million more ($600 million total) to turn around low-performing schools
  • $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.
  • $175 million in competitive grants to boost college completion.
  • $90 million for a new education research and development program and $60 million more for research and evaluation programs at IES.

"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.

In addition to setting aside some new RTT funding for rural districts so they get a fair share of the dollars, Duncan said that the competition would, "Recognize districts leading the way in terms of increasing productivity and raising student achievement."

Additional information on the U.S. Department of Education's FY 2012 budget proposal is available at