March 25, 2024

Jan Resseger: President Biden Proposes Urgently Needed Federal Education Budget Increases for FY 2025

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Jan Resseger takes a look at what the Biden budget proposal has in store for education. Reposted with permission.

President Joe Biden released his budget proposal for the upcoming federal fiscal year beginning on October 1, 2024.  President Biden’s priorities define our society’s obligation to ensure the well-being of our children. The President asks Congress to increase funding for Title I, for Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid and other services for disabled students, and for full-service, wraparound Community Schools. The President asks Congress to increase spending on public education by $3.1 billion, a 4% increase over current allocations in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 annualized Continuing Resolution level.

The Current Federal Budget Morass

That term, “Continuing Resolution level” describes what has been happening with the budget due to political dysfunction in Congress. Each year in February or early March, the President is supposed to propose his federal spending priorities. The expectation is that in subsequent months Congress will debate and pass a final budget, and that as of October 1 (the first day of the new fiscal year), the new budget will become operational. In the current year—FY 2024, however, Congress never agreed on the final budget.

Congress has been kicking the can down the road for months now with a series of continuing resolutions that keep the government operating. To prevent a federal shutdown, Congress must vote on a number of remaining spending bills, including Education and Labor, by March 22 to finalize federal appropriations for FY 2024. For K-12 DiveKara Arundel describes this year’s “budget limbo,” due to sharply conflicting values between the Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives and the Democrat-dominated U.S. Senate:

“After four continuing resolutions, Biden signed an appropriations bill Friday (March 8) to fund several agencies. The remaining agencies—including the Education Department—are still running on a continuing resolution that expires March 22. It wasn’t supposed to be this complex. Last June, the Biden administration, the Republican-led House and the Democrat-led Senate agreed to flat-fund education in FY 2024 as part of a deal to prevent the nation from defaulting on its debt. That deal also limited nondefense spending, including for education, to a 1% increase for FY 2025.  But shortly after that agreement, Republicans on the House  Appropriations Committee  recommended an 80% spending cut to Title I funds… The threat to Title I mobilized educators and advocates who said the cut would result in 220,000 fewer classroom teachers and drastic reductions in other education programs.  Looking forward to FY 2025, GOP House leaders have already said they will ‘sound the alarm’ on what they call ‘already bloated’ spending levels and ‘out of control’ debt levels.”

Biden’s Proposed FY 2025 Education Budget

It is in this context that the President’s proposed FY 2025 education budget request must be understood as an urgently needed statement of values—a declaration of support by the President and professionals in the Department of Education for addressing the needs of the approximately 50 million children and adolescents enrolled in the nation’s public schools. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona describes the importance of the proposals in the President’s new budget: “This is a budget that unapologetically strives to raise the bar for education in America… And it stands in stark contrast to the staggeringly reckless cuts to education others have championed.”

Here are merely some of the President’s most important budgetary increases for the nation’s K-12 public schools:

  • Increase Title I by $200 million.
  • Increase special education funding including DPIA by $220 million and add an additional $10 million to current funding to help prepare and support special education teachers.
  • Increase funding for Full-Service Community schools by $50 million.
  • Increase funding for English language acquisition by $50 million.
  • Increase funding for career and technical education by $40 million.
  • Increase funding for the Office of Civil Rights by $22 million.
  • Add a five-year, $8 billion grants program to help states and school districts support students’ needs that were exacerbated by COVID.  This fund would help schools address chronic absence, pay for high-dosage tutoring, and expand summer and after school learning opportunities.

The President proposes to reduce funding for a program that has operated since the 1990s with insufficient oversight: the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP).  The Charter Schools Program has been shown to have wasted our federal tax dollars on charter schools that have never opened or that quickly shut down, and on charter schools whose for-profit management companies engage in outrageously expensive real estate transactions with the schools they manage or otherwise engage in conflicts of interest. The President proposes cutting $40 million from this $440 million program.

The Network for Public Education has researched problems with the Charter Schools Program and released the following statement: “The Network for Public Education fully supports the decreased funding for the CSP program…. As the program rapidly expanded, so did the opportunity for grift and fraud. ‘The Department’s recent demand that the IDEA charter chain return $28 million is just the latest example of how the CSP has been abused..,’ said Carol Burris (NPE’s executive director). This is the first time an administration has recommended a decrease in the CSP since the program began.”

Educators, parents, and concerned citizens need to demand that Congress enact the President’s proposals.


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