The Obama Administration continued to prioritize education in the 2014 budget released today by proposing key investments in education that would strengthen the middle class, grow the economy and provide opportunities for success to all Americans -- especially our nation's most vulnerable children. Without adding to the deficit, the President's FY 2014 budget invests $71 billion in discretionary funding for the Department, an increase of 4.5 percent over the FY 2013 pre-sequester level.
"We must continue to build on the reforms already transforming classrooms across the country," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Strategic investments in our educational system will not only provide more opportunities for millions of Americans, but they will strengthen our nation's workforce as well."
The cornerstone of the President's education investments will expand high-quality early learning opportunities to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. Studies show that these children have less access to high-quality early education and are less likely to enter school prepared for success -- creating an educational opportunity gap that can shadow them for the rest of their lives. The President's budget proposal will not only help close the gap by providing America's youngest learners a strong start, it will also pay dividends down the road in higher graduation rates, increased employment, better jobs at higher salaries, greater tax revenue, and lower crime and reliance on public assistance.
President Obama's Preschool for All proposal would invest $75 billion over 10 years in separate, fully offset mandatory funding to create new partnerships with states and provide high-quality preschool to more communities, helping ensure that all children enter kindergarten ready to learn. In addition, the 2014 budget provides $750 million in complementary discretionary funds to help states strengthen their early learning systems and prepare to expand access to high-quality preschool. The U.S. Department of Education also will work closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to significantly expand and improve services to younger children through Head Start.
"Preschool is one of the smartest and most critical investments we can make," Duncan said. "By getting our children off to a strong start, we not only increase their individual chances for lifelong success, but also ensure our entire nation is on the path to a strong future."
Including Preschool for All, the President's education investments are targeted to strengthen the education pipeline from cradle to career. The President has also proposed to:
- Further the K-12 reform agenda by investing in teachers and leaders, school turnaround efforts, and STEM programs, as well as increase investments in what works.
- Keep schools and communities safe through an Administration-wide plan to protect our children and neighborhoods from gun violence.
- Redesign the high school experience and increase career readiness of high school students, as well as adult learners.
- Make college more affordable and improve quality by incentivizing states and institutions to do their part in controlling costs and providing good value.
- Provide ladders of opportunity to the middle class through a robust Promise Neighborhoods program and investments in low-income communities.
Further the K-12 reform agenda
Building on the momentum for state-level reform, President Obama has proposed a set of strategic investments to drive change in the nation's K-12 school systems.
- Invest in teachers and leaders: To elevate the teaching profession and strengthen great leaders, the Administration is proposing significant investments, including $5 billion in one-time mandatory funds for the RESPECT initiative to support efforts to transform the teaching profession, as well as $3 billion for the new Excellent Instructional Teams program. The Excellent Instructional Teams program would fund states' and districts' efforts to increase the effectiveness of teachers and principals and includes $400 million for a Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund, $98 million for a School Leadership Grant Program and a 25 percent set-aside ($617 million) within the $2.5 billion ESEA Title II State Grants program. A complementary $190 million mandatory investment in Presidential Teaching Fellows would provide scholarships to students in top-tier teacher preparation programs who commit to teaching in high-need schools and subjects.
- Turn around low-performing schools: To strengthen educational opportunities for all students, the Administration is proposing to invest $659 million in School Turnaround Grants, including a $125 million increase to support and sustain local efforts to reform the lowest performing schools and expand the School Turnaround AmeriCorps initiative.
- Strengthen STEM programs: Only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career, and the nation faces a skills gap in its workforce. The Administration is proposing $150 million for STEM Innovation Networks to create effective strategies for improving STEM education, $35 million to establish a STEM Master Teacher Corps, and $80 million to recruit and train effective STEM teachers for high-need schools.
- Expand what works: The President's Investing in Innovation (i3) competition has supported efforts across the country to develop solutions to some of education's greatest challenges. The 2014 budget increases funding for the i3 program to $215 million in order to expand support for using an evidence-based approach to test new ideas, validate what works, and scale up the most effective approaches in high-need areas.
Keep schools and communities safe
In January, President Obama released his plan to reduce gun violence, make schools safer, and increase access to mental health services. The 2014 request includes new investments in support of that plan's common-sense proposals. These investments, which would be coordinated with related proposals at the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, will help create safer and more nurturing school climates that help prevent school violence. Key proposals include $50 million for School Climate Transformation Grants, $30 million for improved emergency management planning and $25 million for Project Prevent grants to help districts in communities with pervasive violence to break the cycle of violence.
Redesign the high school experience and increase career readiness
To compete in a global economy, Americans need some form of postsecondary education -- whether that's a 4-year degree, 2-year degree or postsecondary certificate. To help to engage high school students as well as meet the needs of adult learners, the Obama Administration has detailed plans to redesign high schools and career and technical education (CTE) programs, aligning them with the skills and knowledge that employers need. The Administration is also renewing its $1.1 billion proposal for a reauthorized Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education program, which would strengthen alignment among secondary and postsecondary CTE programs and businesses.
As previewed in President Obama's State of the Union address, the Administration is proposing $300 million for a new High School Redesign program, which would fund competitive grants to districts partnering with postsecondary institutions, businesses and non-profits to help ensure that all students graduate from high school with college credit and career-related experience.
Make college more affordable and improve quality
The demand for higher education continues to increase at a time when college costs have continued to escalate. President Obama delivered significant increases in the postsecondary financial aid available to students and families over the first term, but student aid cannot keep pace with rising college costs indefinitely. To address these long-term challenges, the President's request proposes comprehensive reforms to increase affordability and quality in higher education, including $1 billion for a new Race to the Top-College Affordability and Completion competition that would drive change in state higher education policies and practices; $260 million for a First in the World fund that would make competitive awards to encourage innovation in higher education; expanding and reforming campus-based aid programs; linking student loan interest rates to market rates -- before they are scheduled to rise on July 1; and expanding the popular Pay As You Earn repayment option to ensure that loan repayments for all student borrowers do not exceed 10 percent of their discretionary income.
In addition, the 2014 budget would fund Pell Grants for more than 9 million students -- an increase of more than 50 percent since 2008 -- and support an increase in the maximum Pell Grant from $5,645 in the 2013-14 year to $5,785 in 2014-15.
Provide ladders of opportunity
Too many communities suffer from concentrated poverty, and schools often take on the multiple challenges that face their most vulnerable students. Through "Promise Zones," federal agencies will partner with the leaders of high-poverty communities to break down barriers and coordinate the resources and expertise they need to create jobs, leverage private investments, increase economic activity, reduce violence, and improve educational opportunities. The President's budget would support Promise Zones through investments in his signature Neighborhood Revitalization programs, including $300 million for the U.S. Department of Education's Promise Neighborhoods.
Together, these investments can continue to close achievement gaps, provide life-transforming opportunities for children, expand educational opportunity, strengthen the middle class and prepare all Americans for the challenges of the 21st century. To learn more about the President's education proposals, visit: www.ed.gov/budget14.