Obama Budget Invests Heavily in Education
"This week, I'll be talking about the need to invest in education -- in places like Parkville -- so that every American is equipped to compete with any worker, anywhere in the world," Obama said.
The White House plan allots $77.4 billion in funding for the Education Department -- significantly more money than most other federal agencies would receive if Congress approves the budget. The $48.8 billion in non-Pell funds is $2 billion (4.3 percent) more than the 2011 level.
The proposal includes three notable changes from previous budgets:
The proposed budget will keep the current maximum Pell grant award at $5,500. The grants, which are given to low- and moderate-income students for post-secondary education, do not have to be repaid. But to maintain the program, the president's plan calls for eliminating Pell grants to pay for summer school, the so-called "two Pell" benefit enacted in 2009. The budget also discontinues the in-school interest subsidy on graduate and professional student loans, which delayed interest accrual on federal loans until after graduation. House Republicans have indicated they would cut the Pell grant program even further, to at least half of its current funding. (To get into the nitty gritty of Pell grants funding, read Jonathan Cohn's column at The New Republic or David Leonhardt's column at The New York Times.)
Race to the Top
The budget calls for investing $1.4 billion in competitions modeled on Race to the Top, which gave approximately $4 billion to 13 states and the District of Columbia for their educational reform proposals. The new competitions will include an "Early Learning Challenge Fund" of $350 million for states that change their early childhood programs and $900 million for another round of Race to the Top, this time offered to school districts rather than to states.
Advanced Research Projects Agency -- Education (ARPA-ED)
The president has set aside $90 million to create a new agency to research technologies that would promote learning, known more familiarly as "ed-tech." The agency's name references the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Department of Defense's research and development office, which was established in 1958 after Russia launched Sputnik. In his budget message, President Obama wrote, "Fifty years later, our generation's Sputnik moment has arrived. Our challenge is not building a new satellite, but to rebuild our economy."