It is deceptively difficult to determine how much money the federal government spends on America's children each year. Money spent on children's health, education, and nutrition -- as well as a host of other government programs that promote child welfare -- comes from 180 different federal programs, making it hard to account for just how much is spent each year.
Enter First Focus, a nonpartisan children's advocacy organization that created the Children's Budget, a document that provides a birds' eye view of all federal spending on education. This week, using data from Congressional appropriations bills through fiscal year 2009, First Focus released its latest report. It shows that, while there are 82 different federal programs aimed at children from birth through age 18, the share of federal money spent on children in the non-defense budget has decreased from 10.5 percent to 9.2 percent over the past five years.
The report comes with an array of helpful charts and searchable databases at ChildrensBudget.org. We here at Early Ed Watch were curious about whether spending on education programs in particular has been going up or down over the years. Using the tools on the site, we found:
As Congress determines how to spend federal dollars in the next fiscal year, a significant federal investment in advancing preschoolers’ literacy skills – Early Reading First – appears to be in jeopardy.
On Thursday the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up its version of the fiscal year 2010 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, which includes funding for major federal early childhood programs. Last week, we reported on the House Appropriations Committee’s version of the same legislation.
When it comes to early childhood programs, the two bills have a lot in common. Both would hold funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant to its fiscal year 2009 level of $2.1 billion, and both would provide a modest $122 million increase in funding for Head Start, raising total Head Start funding to $7.2 million.
The following op-ed originally appeared in U.S. News & World Report on Friday, June 12th and can be accessed here. The full report, Equitable Resources in Low Income Schools: Teacher Equity and the Federal Title I Comparability Requirement, can be read here.
Imagine for a moment that you are driving your child to the hospital. She has a high fever and is suffering from severe abdominal pain. It's unclear what's wrong but she is in definite need of medical attention.
Now imagine that the only doctor on call is a recently graduated medical student. It's her first day on the job and there is no experienced physician or surgeon available for consultation. Are you satisfied with this level of care for your child? I wouldn't be. I'd want to benefit from the knowledge of a more experienced physician. Wouldn't you?
Unfortunately, a similar scenario is playing out in America's urban classrooms with shocking regularity. Teachers with the least experience are educating the most disadvantaged students in the highest poverty, most challenging schools. Low-income kids are being "triaged" not by experienced teachers, but by those with fewer than three years of teaching to go on.
On May 7 the Office of Management and Budget released the President’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2010. As Early Ed Watch reported at the time, that budget includes funding for several new early education programs, including Title I Early Childhood Grants, Early Learning Challenge Fund, Early Literacy Grants, and Home Visitation. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at these proposed programs. Today, we turn to Title I Early Childhood Grants.
President Barack Obama submitted his first budget request to Congress on Thursday, May 7, 2009. This request follows the initial summary budget request he submitted in February that included only proposed funding levels for federal programs and agencies in aggregate. The detailed budget request includes proposed funding levels for federal programs and agencies in aggregate for the upcoming five to ten fiscal years, and specific fiscal year 2010 funding levels for programs subject to appropriations. The president's 2010 budget request marks the first time the Obama administration has submitted funding recommendations for every federal education program and a comprehensive list of new education policy initiatives.
In an effort to heighten the quality of debate on federal education policy, the New America Foundation's Federal Education Budget Project has reviewed the president's proposals and generated a list of key questions policymakers, the media, stakeholder groups, and the public should ask about the proposals.
Yesterday we took a look at total stimulus funding per student as estimated by the House Education and Labor Committee's stimulus allocation data. Today, we will take a closer look at the estimated 2009 Title I funding distributions per poor student in each state and the District of Columbia (Puerto Rico is not included in Census estimates). Title I stimulus distribution is expected to be the same in 2009 and 2010. To the untrained eye, Title I stimulus funding appears to be allocated randomly, with little connection to student poverty levels.
According to the House stimulus bill, distribution of stimulus Title I funds will be channeled through two Title I funding formulas: 50 percent through Targeted Grants and 50 percent through Education Finance Incentive Grants (EFIGs). Both of these formulas target funds based on the number of poor students in a state or district as measured by the census. We used 2007 census data for our analysis.
Here at Ed Money Watch and the Federal Education Budget Project (FEBP) we are always working to better understand the distribution of federal education dollars to schools and districts. The Department of Education recently released a report that seeks to do just that for six federal education programs: Title I, Title II, Title III, Reading First, Perkins Vocational Education Grants, and Comprehensive School Reform (CSR).
In general, the report gives a frank assessment of the degree to which federal programs effectively or ineffectively distribute funds to the schools and districts that most need them - those with large low-income populations. The most interesting findings pertain to Title I, the largest source of K-12 federal funding created to provide low-income, high need students with supplementary academic services.
Now that Republican and Democratic presidential candidates Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama have both released their education agendas, Ed Money Watch has decided to examine the federal education funding implications of both plans. While both candidates' plans leave some questions unanswered, the differences between them on education funding are stark.
Sen. Obama's platform would increase federal funding for K-12 and early education programs by $18 billion annually. The largest share of that new funding-$10 billion-would go to Obama's "zero to five" early education plan to improve the quality and availability of childcare, preschool, and Head Start programs. Obama's proposal would more than double the current federal investment in early childhood programs such as Head Start and the Child Development Block Grant.
Last week, the Senate and House of Representatives Appropriations Committees published their respective versions of the fiscal year 2009 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, which sets funding levels for most federal education programs for the upcoming year. The Senate bill is ready for consideration by the full chamber, while the House bill still awaits full committee approval.
In total, the House bill would provide $63.0 billion for all Department of Education programs funded through the appropriations process. That's an increase of $3.8 billion, or about 6 percent, from fiscal year 2008. The Senate bill would provide $61.8 billion, $2.6 billion (or 4 percent) more than in 2008. Both bills would increase funding more than the president's budget request, which proposed a $28.6 million (or 0.05 percent) increase for the Department of Education.
Of course, these aggregate numbers don't tell us much about funding levels for individual programs, or how the two houses differ in their education priorities. The table below should help shed some light on that matter.
Many low-income parents with children in low-performing schools are not taking advantage of free tutoring available to them under No Child Left Behind. Under NCLB's "Supplemental Educational Services" (SES) provision, school districts that fail to meet academic benchmarks for three years must set aside part of their federal Title I grant to provide outside tutoring—but only a fraction of eligible students are using the program.
The Department of Education is trying to figure out how to increase take-up rates for the SES program. As part of a package of new NCLB regulations, the Department proposed this week that districts should be able to use part of their SES funding set-aside to conduct outreach activites to educate parents about the program (this currently isn't allowed). This is a logical, beneficial addition to the SES provision that hopefully will encourage districts to implement more intensive, effective ways to inform parents about SES.
Low Levels of SES Participation...