Federal

Bush OKs Budget; Hikes Title I, Cuts Reading First

By Alyson Klein & David J. Hoff — December 27, 2007 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

President Bush has signed into a law a bill that will increase federal education spending by 2.9 percent in fiscal 2008 and that generally favors Democratic priorities over the administration’s.

The plan to appropriate $59.2 billion for U.S. Department of Education programs in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 is part of a larger budget drama in which Democrats largely gave in to a hard-line White House stance that earlier measures contained too much in domestic spending increases.

In signing the bill Dec. 26, President Bush criticized Congress for including too many earmarks, or small projects requested by individual lawmakers, in the legislation, a $550 billion omnibus measure that includes fiscal 2008 spending for most other Cabinet agencies as well as the Education Department.

He said in a statement that the bill contains nearly 9,800 earmarks, totaling more than $10 billion. “These projects are not funded through a merit-based process and provide a vehicle for wasteful government spending,” the president said.

The Senate gave final approval to the bill Dec. 18 by a vote of 76-17; the House approved it the next day, 272-142.

The measure will provide $13.9 billion to the Title I program for disadvantaged students, an 8.6 percent increase over the $12.8 billion appropriated for the program in fiscal 2007. But the amount is about 2 percent less than what was proposed for the program in a bill vetoed by President Bush in November.

By contrast, the Reading First program was cut significantly under the legislation, dropping from $1 billion last year to $393 million in fiscal 2008. That is slightly more severe than the $400 million proposed for the program in the vetoed spending bill.

The president said he vetoed that bill, which covered the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, because it exceeded the spending caps set in his proposed budget.

Reading First, aimed at grades K-3, is one of President Bush’s highest priorities under the No Child Left Behind Act, which also covers Title I and many other federal K-12 programs. But the reading program has paid a price on Capitol Hill for a series of highly critical reports over the past 15 months by the Education Department’s inspector general that found favoritism for certain textbook publishers and other management problems in the program’s early years.

Small Increases Elsewhere

Education advocates expressed disappointment over the modest increases for K-12 programs included in the omnibus legislation.

“It’s not as good as we had hoped,” said Mary Kusler, the assistant director of governmental relations for the American Association of School Administrators, based in Arlington Va. “We have not gotten to the point in Congress where they’re investing in the future.”

For K-12 education, most of the total will finance programs for the 2008-09 school year. In addition to the major increase for Title I and the cut to Reading First, the measure will appropriate:

• $10.9 billion for K-12 state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a nearly 1 percent increase over the fiscal 2007 level of $10.8 billion;

• $2.93 billion to help states improve the quality of their teachers, a 1.7 percent increase; and

• $1.2 billion for career and vocational education programs, a 0.5 percent decrease.

Events

Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
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.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leading Systemic Redesign: Strategies from the Field
Learn how your school community can work together to redesign the school system, reengineer instruction, & co-author personalized learning.
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.
Sponsor
Personalized Learning Webinar
No Time to Waste: Individualized Instruction Will Drive Change
Targeted support and intervention can boost student achievement. Join us to explore tutoring’s role in accelerating the turnaround. 
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal What the Federal 'Don't Say Gay' Bill Actually Says
The bill would restrict federal funds for lessons on LGBTQ identities. The outcome of this week's election could revive its prospects.
4 min read
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in front of the Florida State Capitol on March 7, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida House Republicans advanced a bill, dubbed by opponents as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, to forbid discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, rejecting criticism from Democrats who said the proposal demonizes LGBTQ people.
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee on March 7, 2022. Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law was a model for a federal bill introduced last month.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal Fed's Education Research Board Is Back. Here's Why That Matters
Defunct for years, the National Board for Education Sciences has new members and new priorities.
2 min read
Image of a conference table.
vasabii/iStock/Getty
Federal Opinion NAEP Needs to Be Kept at Arm’s Length From Politics
It’s in all our interests to ensure NAEP releases are buffered from political considerations and walled off from political appointees.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Feds Emphasize Legal Protections for Pregnant or Recently Pregnant Students, Employees
The U.S. Department of Education has released a new resource summary related to pregnancy discrimination in schools.
2 min read
Young girl checking her pregnancy test, sitting on beige couch at home.
iStock/Getty Images Plus