Education Opinion

$100 billion daydreams

By Jessica Shyu — February 17, 2009 2 min read

Hallelujah, we are rich.

With the sweep of his pen on Tuesday, President Barack Obama will more than double the budget for education when he signs the $789 billion stimulus package. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will have a glorious $100 billion to deliver to needy schools, programs and universities.

As The New York Times describes: “The plan would shower the nation’s school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion (updated: $100 billion) in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education’s current budget. The proposed emergency expenditures on nearly every realm of education, including school renovation, special education, Head Start and grants to needy college students, would amount to the largest increase in federal aid since Washington began to spend significantly on education after World War II.”

Can you even begin to imagine where this cash will go toward and what it can do? Maybe new lockers and painted walls for the dilapidated high schools in Washington, DC? Developmentally appropriate after-school programs on the Navajo Nation?
In-depth teacher training on effective special education inclusion co-teaching? Strong, standards-aligned assessments for every grade level and every content in every district? A rocking financial aid package for all the low-income students who have made it and are receiving their first college acceptance letters in the mail right around now???

My (and everyone else’s) daydreams for how to use the funds can go on forever. Because they are just that-- daydreams that won’t come true without the right folks doing the right things really, really well. The stimulus is no silver bullet, I have to remind myself, and throwing money at a problem has never fixed anything.

It will take relentless hard work, analyzing and re-analyzing to figure out what we’re doing right in classrooms and not being afraid to change what we discover is going wrong (even if it is already February and it feels impossible to change the routines in your kindergarten classroom), and most important of all, basing it all on what is best for kids. It takes really, really high-quality teaching that sticks, something that doesn’t require magic or a billion dollars to develop. It’s what many of us are already doing now-- more money will help make sure we’re able to keep up the good fight and work smarter.

We’ll let Secretary Duncan and his team take on the exciting, envious and outrageously challenging work to figure out who, what, how and when the money will go. In the meantime, let’s just focus on teaching really, really well.

(And cross our fingers that those lockers get installed before next fall.)

The opinions expressed in New Terrain are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read