Federal

Teacher Incentive Hike Survives in Key House Panel

July 10, 2009 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A key House panel today took action on the U.S. Department of Education’s fiscal 2010 budget, approving a plan that embraces one of President Barack Obama’s top priorities: providing a big increase for a program that rewards effective teachers.

But the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education rejected the president’s call to triple spending for a program aimed at helping to turn around low-performing schools.

Overall, under the budget package, the department would receive $64.7 billion in discretionary funding in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, an increase of $1.2 billion, or 1.8 percent, over the current year—excluding the massive influx of federal aid included in the economic-stimulus measure enacted in February.

The budget total approved by a voice vote of the panel is about what President Obama requested, according to subcommittee materials, though it does not reflect his proposal to shift Pell Grants for low-income college students to the mandatory side of the budget. The subcommittee bill matches President Obama’s request to increase the maximum Pell grant award to $5,500, an increase of $200 per grant.

(Even factoring in the Pell Grant shift, the total spending request listed in the subcommittee summary document differs slightly from that provided by the Education Department because of differences in how the figures are calculated.)

“This bill is fiscally responsible and makes hard choices among competing priorities,” Rep. David R. Obey, the chairman of the subcommittee, said in discussing the bill.

Although the panel’s Republicans did not vote against the bill, the Appropriations Committee’s ranking minority member raised some concerns about it in a press release.

“Already this year, Democratic proposals have put our country into more than a trillion dollars worth of debt—not including interest,” said Rep. Jerry Lewis of California.

“There are some good programs in this bill that deserve to be funded,” he added, but he contended that Democrats are failing to make the “tough decisions” on spending priorities that are needed to ensure long-term fiscal sustainability.

TIF Increase Survives

At press time, only limited details on the subcommittee’s spending measure for the Education Department were available.

The bill as approved by the House panel would provide $446 million for the Teacher Incentive Fund, more than quadrupling the $97 million provided this fiscal year and close to meeting President Obama’s request of $487 million. That would be in addition the $200 million provided for the program under the stimulus law, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The result may come as something of a surprise, given that during a recent hearing before the subcommittee, Rep. Obey expressed some skepticism about the program’s effectiveness. (“Key Democrats Question Parts of Obama Budget,” June 10, 2009.)

The spending plan meets the president’s call to include $50 million for a new high school graduation initiative, and would match his request of $11.5 billion for special education state grants, which is the same amount as provided in the fiscal 2009 budget, not counting stimulus dollars.

However, the panel rejected a bid by Mr. Obama to shift $1.5 billion of Title I aid to districts into two other programs. He has proposed to roughly triple the $545 million Title I school improvement grants program and wants to create a new, $500 million Title I Early Childhood Grants program.

Instead, the subcommittee bill would maintain Title I grants to districts at $14.5 billion, the same level as appropriated for the current fiscal year, not including stimulus aid.

“We’re delighted that Chairman Obey did not go along with the president’s proposed cut in Title I funding,” said Mary A. Kusler, the assistant director for advocacy and policy at the American Association of School Administrators. “That sends an important signal.”

In other areas, according to materials provided by the subcommittee, the bill would provide more than $400 million for “new approaches to improving reading instruction in our schools”; $10 million for a new Promise Neighborhoods program Mr. Obama has proposed to support communitywide approaches to lifting children out of poverty; and $156 million for charter school grants, well below the $268 million the president requested.

The next step for the House bill is consideration by the full House Appropriations Committee, but at press time no date had been set.

A version of this article appeared in the July 15, 2009 edition of Education Week as Teacher Incentive Hike Survives in Key House Panel

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
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
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Creating Confident Readers: Why Differentiated Instruction is Equitable Instruction
Join us as we break down how differentiated instruction can advance your school’s literacy and equity goals.
Content provided by Lexia 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
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning

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 K-12 Leaders Denounce Antisemitism But Reject That It's Rampant in Schools
Three school district leaders said they're committed to rooting out antisemitism during a hearing in Congress.
6 min read
From left, David Banks, chancellor of New York Public schools, speaks next to Karla Silvestre, President of the Montgomery Count (Md.) Board of Education, Emerson Sykes, Staff Attorney with the ACLU, and Enikia Ford Morthel, Superintendent of the Berkeley United School District, during a hearing on antisemitism in K-12 public schools, at the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, on May 8, 2024, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
From left, David Banks, chancellor of New York City schools, speaks next to Karla Silvestre, president of the Montgomery County, Md., school board; Emerson Sykes, staff attorney with the ACLU; and Enikia Ford Morthel, superintendent of the Berkeley Unified school district in Berkeley, Calif., during a hearing on antisemitism in K-12 public schools, at the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, on May 8, 2024, in Washington.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Federal Miguel Cardona in the Hot Seat: 4 Takeaways From a Contentious House Hearing
FAFSA, rising antisemitism, and Title IX dominated questioning at a U.S. House hearing with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
6 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies during a House Committee on Education and Workforce hearing on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies during a House Committee on Education and Workforce hearing on Capitol Hill on May 7 in Washington.
Mariam Zuhaib/AP
Federal Arming Teachers Could Cause 'Accidents and More Tragedy,' Miguel Cardona Says
"This is not in my opinion a smart option,” the education secretary said at an EdWeek event.
4 min read
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during Education Week’s 2024 Leadership Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., on May 2, 2024.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during Education Week’s 2024 Leadership Symposium at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., on May 2, 2024.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
Federal Opinion Should Migrant Families Pay Tuition for Public School?
The answer must reflect an outlook that is pro-immigration, pro-compassion, and pro-law and order, writes Michael J. Petrilli.
Michael J. Petrilli
4 min read
Image of a pencil holder filled with a variety of colored pencils that match the background with international flags.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva