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Education Funding

Obama’s Budget Scalpel Slices Even Start

By Alyson Klein — May 06, 2009 1 min read

President Obama’s budget to be released Thursday will propose eliminating the $66 million Even Start family literacy program, which apparently hasn’t done very well on performance evaluations.

Advocates for early childhood education shouldn’t take this to mean that Obama doesn’t care about their issue, White House aides were quick to point out.

“The President’s commitment to early childhood education is well known,” a senior White House aide told reporters on a conference call earlier today. “We’re not going to hold back on eliminating programs simply because of their intentions.”

Obama might have an uphill battle on this one. President Bush also tried to scrap the program, but its congressional champions keep restoring the funding. Will those folks have more qualms about bucking a Democratic President instead of a Republican? We’ll see.

Even Start is just one of some 120 programs that are slated for the chopping block in tomorrow’s budget proposal. Top administration aides said the reductions will save $17 billion, which sounds like a lot of money, but really isn’t in the context a $3.5 trillion budget.

Aides mentioned just one other Education Department that they’ve decided is extraneous: that attaché to Paris we’ve already mentioned. Apparently, the White House agrees with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that video-conferencing to Paris will work just as well.

My guess is there are at least a few more Education Department programs on the chopping block (the $8.8 million Exchanges with Historic Whaling and Trading Partners Program comes to mind).

But we won’t know for sure until Thursday.

UPDATE: The $7 million Javits Gifted and Talented Education program is slated for elimination in Obama’s budget. The Office of Management and Budget justified the decision, saying that the grants only go out to 15 school districts. Bush also tried to slash that program, but had no luck.

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