Budget 2012: Department of Education
President Obama wants a major funding increase in the coming year to sustain Pell grants for needy college students and more modest increases to finance his reform agenda for public schools.
House Republicans want deep, immediate cuts in both areas of education, setting up a clash early in the new Congress.
Among domestic programs, education comes out a winner in the president's fiscal 2012 budget: Spending would increase 11 percent, to more than $77 billion.
Much of that growth would support keeping the maximum Pell grant at $5,550 a year. The college-access program has grown in the past two years with Obama's backing. Economic troubles mean far more students are qualifying for grants. Grant recipients are projected to increase from about 6 million in 2008 to more than 9 million in 2012, putting major pressure on the federal budget.
House Republicans would lower the maximum Pell grant to $4,705 and cut other education spending by about $4.9 billion.
Excluding Pell grants, Obama would raise education spending about $2 billion, or 4 percent, to nearly $49 billion. That includes about $500 million more for Title I -- an anti-poverty school program-- and for special education.
Obama also wants $900 million to extend his signature Race to the Top school reform contest to school districts, with some of the money targeting rural areas, as well as smaller amounts for various initiatives, including recruiting more science and math teachers.
For many schools, the education funding fight on Capitol Hill will pale this year in importance compared to the battles emerging in statehouses across the country.
Even if Obama wins approval for all of his proposed increases--which is doubtful given the House Republican opposition--new federal spending would not come close to offsetting cuts in education expected at state and local levels.
| February 14, 2011; 10:25 AM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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