Winning the Future by Giving Every Child a World-Class Education

The Federal Budget

Having emerged from the worst recession in generations, we must do what we can to broaden the recovery and spur job creation across the country. We also must look to the future and prepare to create the jobs and industries of tomorrow in an increasingly competitive global economy. That will take out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world; restoring fiscal responsibility to remove the burden of deficits and debt; and reforming our government so that it is more effective, efficient, and open to the American people. The 2012 Budget presents the Administration’s plan to do all of that. It lays out an achievable strategy to get us on the path to sustainable deficits and beyond by making tough decisions about cuts throughout the budget. It targets scarce federal resources to the areas critical to winning the future: education, innovation, clean energy, and infrastructure. And it proposes to reform how Washington does business, putting more federal funding up for competition, cutting waste, and reorganizing government so that it better serves the American people.

Our prosperity and our children’s well-being increasingly depend on making sure that students are smart, skilled, and creative; able to solve problems, see patterns, and work with others. Because offering every child an education that connects them to the opportunities and jobs of tomorrow is critical to winning the future, the Budget will:

Reform Elementary and Secondary School Education. Too often, education funds are allocated based on factors that are not tied to success or the goals we need to reach to educate our children for active citizenship and for the jobs of tomorrow. As we move to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Administration seeks to construct a reauthorized law that would support a bold restructuring of K-12 funding by focusing all funding around the Nation’s most critical educational goals and consolidating narrow programs into broader authorities. Specifically, we want to encourage States to adopt higher, clearer standards; to support dramatic improvements in the quality of assessments; and to recognize and reward schools for helping students make important gains. Our proposal also offers new flexibility for successful States and districts to pursue solutions to help all students graduate from high school, college- and career-ready.

Encourage Innovation and Support Success in Education. The Budget funds several efforts that give States and school districts the flexibility to compete for funding to develop innovative approaches or further improve and expand effective programs that achieve better outcomes for their students. Specifically, the Budget provides $300 million to continue the Investing in Innovation program to test, validate, and scale up effective approaches to student learning; $372 million to expand educational options by helping grow effective charter schools, magnet schools, and other innovative and autonomous public schools that achieve positive results and give parents more choices; and $300 million in new funding for College and Career Ready Students (currently Title I grants) to reward schools that show the most progress in improving the achievement of at-risk students. The Budget also expands the Race to the Top program with a new focus on helping State and school districts sustain reform in an era of tight budgets.

Eliminate and Consolidate Narrow Education Programs.  Over the years, numerous small programs have been created to deliver education funding, yet many of them have not been evaluated for efficacy or have not been proven to make a difference. We have a responsibility to spend every dollar as effectively as possible. The President’s Budget eliminates 13 discretionary programs and consolidates 38 K-12 programs into 11 new programs that emphasize using competition to allocate funds, giving communities more choices around activities, and using rigorous evidence to fund what works.  The Administration's proposal also includes provisions to ensure that new grant competitions result in an equitable geographic distribution of funds nationwide, including to rural communities.

Promote Quality in the Classroom. The Budget provides $2.5 million for an overhauled teacher quality formula grant; invests $500 million in the Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund, a competitive grant program for States and school districts with smart new approaches to strengthening the impact of school professionals; and provides $250 million for Teacher and Leader Pathways, a competitive program to support effective teachers and leader preparation programs. In addition, the Budget contains $100 million to help States and districts provide important information to principals and teachers about their progress in meeting their reform goals and improving outcomes for students. As we learn what works, we also should reward those who are able to get extraordinary results from the dollars they spend. The Administration is launching a series of low-cost incentive programs including “pay for success bonds" that provide funding only after results are achieved; prioritizing cost-saving initiatives within Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation; and creating a prize for State and local grantees with the greatest cost savings. The Budget also increases funding by $100 million for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which support academic enrichment for children in high-poverty and low-performing schools.

Prepare Students for College. The Budget includes $150 million for Promise Neighborhoods, an initiative modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone, which aims to improve college going rates by combining a rigorous K-12 education with a full network of supportive services in an entire neighborhood. This initiative would support comprehensive programs that address the needs of children and youth in a targeted area from before the time they are born to their attendance in college. The core principle behind this initiative is that combining both effective academic programs and strong health and social-service systems can combat the effects of poverty and improve the education and life outcomes of children. 

Establish a Competitive Early Learning Challenge Fund. Recognizing that quality early education is an investment that pays off for years to come, the Administration proposes extending the Race to the Top approach to early childhood education. Accordingly, the Budget includes $350 million to establish a new, competitive Early Learning Challenge Fund, administered by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, for States that are ready to take dramatic steps to improve the quality of their early childhood programs.  The Early Learning Challenge Fund will be complemented by investments in Head Start and in child care, coupled with reform principles designed to improve health and safety standards, empower parents, and improve the quality of child care programs.

Support High-Quality Early Childhood Programs. Because effective investment in early childhood is so critical to children’s ability to reach their full potential and the Nation’s future economic health, the Budget includes $8.099 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start to serve approximately 968,000 children and families, maintaining the historic expansion undertaken with Recovery Act funds, in addition to the money invested in the Early Learning Challenge Fund.  The Budget similarly includes $6.3 billion for the Child Care and Development Fund, an additional $1.3 billion, to support 1.7 million children with child care subsidies.  At the same time, the Budget invests in improved quality, proposing principles for child care reform that focus on improving quality, protecting health and safety, and strengthening early learning; and supporting proposed regulations to strengthen Head Start by requiring low-performing programs to compete for funding. 

Invest in the Next Generation of Scientists and Engineers.  Students need to be able to solve problems, apply appropriate technologies, and design solutions – skills honed by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. We have seen other nations eclipse ours in preparing their children in these critical fields. To enable our students to thrive, schools need effective STEM educators. The Budget includes $80 million in the Department of Education to expand promising and effective models of teacher preparation. To bring undergraduates from groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields, the Budget also provides the National Science Foundation with $20 million for an overarching, comprehensive science and technology workforce program. These programs will be developed in conjunction with a government-wide effort to improve the impact of Federal investments in math and science education by ensuring that all programs supporting K-12 and undergraduate education adhere to consistent standards of effectiveness.

Encourage Innovation in Education. The Budget includes $90 million for a new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Education (ARPA-ED) in 2012 that would promote dramatic breakthroughs in educational technology.

Support Students with Disabilities. The Budget provides a $200 million increase for IDEA State Grants, which help students with disabilities succeed in elementary and secondary school. An 11 percent or $50 million increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Infants and Families programs (Part C) will help ensure many of our youngest and most vulnerable children get off to a strong start.  In addition, a new $30 million joint pilot will develop and evaluate innovative approaches to improving outcomes of children receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and their families.