Schools and the Federal Education Budget

By Reginald Felton

President Obama submitted his budget request in March to Congress for fiscal year 2015. The request proposed an increase of $1.3 billion over the 2014 level for U.S. Department of Education programs. The budget request included six major initiatives for the department:

• Increasing equity and opportunity for all students.

• Strengthening support for teachers and school leaders.

• Expanding high-quality preschool programs.

• Encouraging affordability and quality in postsecondary education.

• Promoting educational innovation and improvement.

• Improving school safety and climate.

Of the $68.6 billion proposed for the Education Department, most of the proposed $1.3 billion increase would fund competitive grant programs, rather than provide increases for formula-based programs such as Title I Grants for Disadvantaged Students and special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Both Title I and IDEA are currently underfunded. When compared with 2014, these two programs would essentially remain level-funded under the budget request. The exception is a $100 million increase for IDEA that would fund competitive grants to states to implement evidenced-based reform to build capacity and improve service delivery.

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