Special Report
Federal

Senate Budget Panel OKs Slim Boost for Education

By Alyson Klein — July 29, 2009 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

After a major windfall in the federal economic-stimulus law, K-12 education would see just a modest boost in funding in fiscal 2010 under a measure approved yesterday by the U.S. Senate subcommittee that oversees education spending.

The appropriations subcommittee proposed $63.45 billion for the U.S. Department of Education in fiscal 2010, an $800 million increase over fiscal 2009. That’s just a little less than the $64.16 billion in a bill passed by the full U.S. House of Representatives last week, and the $64.18 billion in President Barack Obama’s request.

But education programs got up to $100 billion, spread out over two years, in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the stimulus legislation approved in February.

The fiscal 2010 budget measure approved by the Senate panel included less money for Title I grants to districts than the program got in the current fiscal year, not counting the $10 billion for the grants over two years made available in the recovery act. The bill includes $13.8 billion for Title I grants to districts, a significant increase over the president’s request of $12.9 billion, but also a substantial cut from the fiscal 2009 level of $14.5 billion.

A bill approved by the House last week includes $14.5 billion for the grants, about the same level as for 2009.

In his budget request this spring for fiscal 2010, which begins Oct. 1, President Obama asked Congress to shift $1 billion from Title I grants to districts to the Title I school improvement grant program, which helps turn around schools struggling to meet the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act.

The Senate subcommittee rejected that proposal. Instead, it level-funded school improvement grants at $546 million, the same amount the program got in fiscal 2009 and in the House bill. The program received $3 billion in the stimulus package.

But the Senate bill includes $700 million for school renovation grants, a perennial priority for Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who chairs the subcommittee. Districts would have to compete for the grants, and then match the federal money with local dollars.

“School renovation should have been funded in the recovery act,” Sen. Harkin said. “But in the end, school renovation ended up with no money whatsoever.” The Senate’s original version of the stimulus legislation included $16 billion for school construction, but the money was stripped out to gain the support of moderate lawmakers in both parties.

Marc Egan, a lobbyist for the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, praised the inclusion of school facilities money.

“We applaud Chairman Harkin for continuing his push for school modernization,” he said.

On another provision, Mr. Egan said: “While we’re pleased the bill restores some of the proposed cut to Title I basic grants, it does not go far enough, and we hope that will change as the bill advances.”

Teacher Incentive Funding

The Senate panel’s measure doesn’t go as far as the House bill, or the president’s request, in financing the Teacher Incentive Fund, which awards pay-for-performance grants to districts on a competitive basis.

It calls for $300 million for the TIF, a substantial hike over the $97 million the program received in fiscal 2009, but not as much as the steep increase, to $487 million, sought by the Obama administration. The House bill was much closer to the administration’s request, with $445 million in all for the teacher-pay program.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., hinted that she might try to introduce an amendment to hike funding for the TIF when the bill goes to the full committee for consideration on Thursday.

“I’d like to work with you to figure out a way that we could increase funding for the Teacher Incentive Fund,” she said. Ms. Landrieu was among 10 senators who sent a letter to Sen. Harkin and other leaders on the appropriations panels last week asking for full funding of the president’s request for the TIF.

But Mr. Harkin said states could use a portion of the $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant program—a feature of the recovery act—to work on teacher quality. It’s unclear, though, just how many states will qualify for those competitive grants from the Department of Education.

Shifts in Reading Programs

The Senate panel’s bill would eliminate the $112 million Early Reading First program, which President Obama had sought to increase to $162 million. Instead, the measure would pump $263 million total into the Striving Readers program, which aides said would lead to a more comprehensive approach to reading, at all levels of instruction.

Right now, Striving Readers is funded at $35 million. The Senate level still isn’t as much as the president asked for. Mr. Obama wanted $370 million for Striving Readers. The House put $146 million into the program.

The Senate bill also includes $11.5 billion for special education grants to states, about the same as in fiscal 2009, the House bill, and the president’s request. Special education state grants received $11.3 billion in the stimulus bill.

Education Technology State Grants would get $100 million, the same as in the House version and the Obama budget, but a lot less than the $269 million the program got for the current fiscal year. The program received $650 million in the stimulus legislation, spread over two years.

The Senate measure would fully fund the administration’s $50 million dropout-prevention initiative. And charter schools would get $256 million, an increase of $40 million over fiscal 2009, but less than the $268 million the president wanted.

The state Safe and Drug Free Schools grant program would be eliminated, in keeping with an Obama proposal. The administration said the grants were spread too thin to be effective, but advocates say they are worried that the program’s elimination would mean that districts would lose money that they have been counting on to prepare for threats such as pandemic flu.

A version of this article appeared in the August 12, 2009 edition of Education Week as Senate Budget Panel OKs Slim Boost for Education

Events

School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
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
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

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 Use Your 'Teacher Voice,' Jill Biden Urges in a Push for Political Activism
Voting in the midterms is a critical step educators can take to bolster democracy, the first lady and other labor leaders told teachers.
5 min read
First Lady Jill Biden speaks during the American Federation of Teachers convention, Friday, July 15, 2022, in Boston.
First lady Jill Biden speaks during the American Federation of Teachers convention in Boston.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Federal Federal Initiative Leverages COVID Aid to Expand After-School, Summer Learning
The Education Department's Engage Every Student effort includes partnerships with civic organizations and professional groups.
3 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks at an event on June 2, 2022, at the Department of Education in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks at an event at the Department of Education in Washington in June. The department has announced a push for expanded access to after-school and summer learning programs.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Federal Restraint and Seclusion, and Disability Rights: Ed. Department Has Work to Do, Audit Finds
The Government Accountability Office releases a checklist of how the U.S. Department of Education is performing on a list of priorities.
4 min read
Flags decorate a space outside the office of the Education Secretary at the Education Department in Washington on Aug. 9, 2017.
Flags decorate a space outside the office of the Education Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. The Government Accountability Office has released recommended priorities for the Education Department that target special education rights.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Federal Biden Administration Boosts Grants for Community Schools, Sharpens Funding Priorities
The Education Department will award $68 million through its Full-Service Community Schools program.
2 min read
First-graders Rhiannon Hanson, left, and Holden Ashbrook make fruit skewers in class at Lincoln Elementary School in Dubuque, Iowa, on Jan. 20, 2022. Project Rooted has partnered with Dubuque Community Schools for a pilot program in which it provides monthly boxes containing local foods and a project to first-grade classrooms.
First-graders Rhiannon Hanson, left, and Holden Ashbrook make fruit skewers at Lincoln Elementary School in Dubuque, Iowa. The U.S. Department of Education is providing grants to high-quality community schools that provide wraparound services like the nutrition programs at Lincoln Elementary.
Jessica Reilly/Telegraph Herald via AP