The domestic-spending package passed by Congress last month spells out the budgets of education programs not only within the Department of Education but also in several other federal agencies.
Two of the biggest education- related programs in the Department of Health and Human Services—the Head Start preschool program and the Child Care and Development Block Grant—would both have their funding almost frozen in fiscal 2005, with increases of about 1 percent. The fiscal year began Oct. 1.
Head Start would receive $6.8 billion; the child-care-grant program is to get $2.1 billion. Both of those funding levels are slightly below President Bush’s request. The child-care money goes to states, which use it to pay not only for child-care help for mothers on welfare, but also for a wide variety of other child-care initiatives.
“[W]e are going to see a real cut in the Head Start program under this budget,” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on Senate education committee, said on the Senate floor last month.
Congress fell well short of Mr. Bush’s plans to more than double federal aid for abstinence-based sex education programs, which is also under the Health and Human Services Department. The final budget includes just under $100 million, a $30 million boost from last year, but far below Mr. Bush’s $182 million request. (“Abstinence-Only Curricula Misleading, Report Says,” this issue.)
Lawmakers last month completed work on a nearly $400 billion omnibus spending plan for fiscal 2005. The Education Department saw only a slight increase in discretionary spending, rising by $915 million, or 1.6 percent, to $56.6 billion. (“2005 Budget Drops Below Bush Request,” Dec. 1, 2004.)
As of late last week, the bill had not yet been sent to Mr. Bush because Congress planned to undo a provision that would have allowed some congressional aides to examine Americans’ income-tax returns.
Figures in this story take into account an across-the-board cut of 0.8 percent that Congress said would apply to non-defense and non-homeland security programs.
Congress heeded the president’s call to create a $250 million community college initiative in the Department of Labor, a plan he promoted on the campaign trail this year. The White House has said the initiative would seek to help community colleges train 100,000 additional workers for the industries that are creating the most new jobs.
Funding for the National Science Foundation’s mathematics and science partnership program for K-12 education would decline from $139 million in fiscal 2004 to about $80 million this year.
“I am both concerned and astonished that we would make this decision at a time when other nations continue to surpass our students in math and science and consistently increase their funding of basic research,” Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers, R-Mich., said Nov. 20 on the House floor.
Congress did increase spending on a math and science education program under the Education Department. That initiative received $179 million; Mr. Bush wanted $100 million more. (“Math, Science Grants In Federal Cross Hairs,” Feb. 11, 2004.)
Other highlights include:
• $431 million for Americorps, part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, down $10 million from 2004.
• $7.4 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus USA program, which seeks to reduce the emission of air pollutants by school buses. This is an increase of $2.4 million over last year, but far below the $65 million President Bush requested.
• $23 million for Ready to Learn and $14 million for Ready to Teach under the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, almost the same as in fiscal 2004.