Biden’s K-12 Budget Seeks $ 20 Billion for State Incentives to Address Funding Inequalities


President Joe Biden on Friday proposed an ambitious $ 6 trillion national budget that calls for a dramatic increase in spending on K-12 education, including $ 20 billion in new incentives for states to increase remuneration of teachers and tackling inequalities in the funding of schools.

The proposal would increase the discretionary budget of the US Department of Education for the coming fiscal year to $ 102.8 billion, or about 41% above current levels. The plan, which is likely to meet resistance from Congress, echoes Biden’s promise as a candidate to push for a potentially transformational increase in new funding for education.

At the heart of Biden’s education budget: New “equity grants” that would increase funding for Title I, a grant program for the education of disadvantaged students, to $ 36.5 billion from around $ 16 billion dollars, the largest increase in program history.

This new funding would “build on the existing Title I program,” according to a new formula that would address state and local funding models that “favor richer districts over concentrated poverty districts,” a ministry document. ‘Education said. This can create political friction, as can previous efforts to tie the strings to new federal funds.

Politicians concerned about equity have long pointed to the challenges posed by the country’s education financing systems. White-majority districts receive around $ 23 billion more funding than districts that primarily serve students of color, said a report from EdBuild, an organization of frequently cited Democratic presidential candidates in 2020.

“We know that providing more funds for Title I is going to help schools, especially those that are under resourced, have more resources to level the playing field,” the US Secretary of Education said on Friday, Miguel Cardona, during a phone call.

Some lawmakers have said the current Title I formula does not adequately address funding gaps between schools. Rather than replacing this formula entirely, the Biden plan would divide the new Title I funds into a separate grant. To access this funding, states should submit plans on how they could monitor and address gaps in their funding systems, ensuring that teachers are paid at levels comparable to other trained professionals. and similar experience, ensuring students have access to advanced courses and increasing access to early childhood programs, a proposition of the education department said.

A president’s budget proposal helps detail the administration’s priorities, but Biden is unlikely to pass Congress without significant changes. The proposal comes as schools plan to spend nearly $ 130 billion in COVID-19 relief funds provided through the US bailout.

Additional funding for education is needed to change the patterns of inequality that have persisted in American schools for years, the Biden administration said. Biden has campaigned on plans to triple Title I funding, and the budget is a down payment on that, officials said on Friday.

“We need to focus not only on recovering from the pandemic, but also on educating our students after the pandemic to ensure that there are improved resources to rebuild our education system better than before,” said Cardona Friday.

Calls for significant spending on education

The FY2022 budget proposal echoes the priorities of Biden’s U.S. infrastructure plan and his plan for American families.

  • He’s looking for $ 100 billion over 10 years for school infrastructure, $ 50 billion in competitive grants and $ 50 billion in bonds.
  • He is asking for $ 3.5 billion for the creation of new universal preschool programs within the Department of Health and Human Services and funding for two years of a free community college for all students.
  • This would increase funding for the Disability Education Act, the national law on special education, to $ 16 billion, an increase of about $ 2.7 billion.
  • This would increase funding for full-service community schools, which would help coordinate services, such as health care and counseling, to meet the non-academic needs of students. According to the budget, federal grants for this program would increase from $ 30 million to $ 443 million.
  • He calls for a new billion-dollar program to double the number of counselors, school psychologists, nurses and social workers in schools.
  • It is proposing $ 25 million for a program to identify and implement new strategies that make school buildings greener.

The proposal faces political headwinds

The proposal is likely to meet resistance in a deeply divided Congress, where Biden’s party holds a narrow majority and some moderate Democrats have been skeptical of plans to raise corporate taxes to pay it off.

Sen. Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama and vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, called Biden’s proposal “a plan for higher taxes, overspending, and disproportionate funding priorities.”

“Fortunately, the president’s proposal is just that – a proposal,” Shelby said in a statement Friday. “In the weeks to come, Congress will exercise its constitutional stock market power by drafting supply bills that I hope will put our nation’s spending first.”

Presidents’ budget proposals are rarely adopted in their entirety. Former President Donald Trump, for example, has repeatedly called for dramatic cuts in education spending and once proposed combining a host of specific programs into one large block grant. But Congress rejected these efforts, effectively increasing the budget for the Department of Education during his tenure.

Although the agency’s budget has increased in recent years, supporters of increasing federal funding for education have said it still falls short of meeting needs. Education represents about 2% of all federal spending, and K-12 schools are largely funded by state and local revenues. K-12 spending is only part of Biden’s education budget, which also includes funding for higher education programs.

Education organizations have welcomed Biden’s budget proposal.

“President Biden’s budget commits much-needed resources to rebuild and reinvest in public schools and American students,” said a statement from Anna Maria Chávez, executive director and CEO of the National School Boards Association. She urged lawmakers to pass it to “ensure our educators have the support and resources they need to help our students heal, learn and thrive.”

“After decades of Title I and IDEA underfunding, President Biden’s historic investments are beginning to fulfill long-standing federal commitments to our most vulnerable students and those in the most underserved communities,” said National Education Association president Becky Pringle in a statement.

Others praised more specific parts of the proposal.

The Education Trust, for example, an organization that advocates for equity in education, was delighted to see the administration’s plans to use the new Title I funding as “a catalyst for state leaders and districts are addressing inequalities in their existing school funding systems ”. CEO Denise Forte said in a statement.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals welcomed the budget call to increase funding for Title II-A, which supports the professional development of teachers and principals.

“Studies show a strong correlation between high quality principals, student success and teacher retention, ”NASSP CEO Ronn Nozoe said in a statement. “School leaders must have the opportunity to acquire professional knowledge to develop their skills in order to ensure equitable learning opportunities for an increasingly diverse student body.”

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