President Barack Obama in March proposed $68.6 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Education in fiscal 2015, which would be a 1.9% increase from fiscal 2014, but the spending plan as proposed is unlikely to be acted upon in a Congressional election year
Additionally, late in 2013 Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act, which set discretionary funding levels for two years. Under that agreement, forged to avoid another government shutdown, Congress restored half of the sequester cuts scheduled for 2014 but only 20% of the cuts to discretionary spending scheduled for 2015.
The Obama administration budget plan attempts to restore more funding by recommending that many programs be funded at fiscal 2014 levels in fiscal 2015. For example, 10 of the education funding lines detailed in the accompanying chart would be flat-funded under the President’s proposal, including the largest education allocation College and Career Readiness (Title I) funding.
Six tracked education funding lines would get more funding under the Obama proposal. As he did unsuccessfully in his 2014 budget, the President again proposes a High School Redesign program that would fund competitive grants to districts partnering with employers and postsecondary institutions. Grantees would redesign high schools to help students graduate with college credit earned through dual enrollment, Advanced Placement or other postsecondary learning opportunities, as well as career-related experiences like internships, mentorships and work-based learning.
The budget plan includes $319.7 million for STEM Innovation as part of an effort to consolidate and restructure existing programs while providing more funding.
The 2015 budget includes $300 million for the Obama administration’s signature education reform Race to the Top. The 2015 RTT plan calls for an Equity and Opportunity competition centered on improving the academic performance of students in highest poverty schools and built on programs like Title I and Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems.
Under the Obama budget proposal, the Excellent Instructional Teams initiative would add a new ConnectEDucators program-a complement to the President’s ConnectED initiative-that would provide competitive funds to districts and consortia to support educators’ use of technology and data to personalize learning. Grant proposals would be based on a needs assessment and could include areas like coaching to help educators select and use digital content or student data to improve instruction; expanding collaboration, engagement, and communication with parents, teachers, and professional networks; and providing access to experts and effective teachers through online/blending-learning environments in hard-to-staff schools and subjects.•