Today the Washington Post and Ed Week provided us all insight on the President’s 2011 education budget proposals. The highlights include a $4 billion (6.2% increase):
• $1.35 billion in Race to the Top II
• $1 billion reserved for ESEA reauthorization
• $1.65 billion for other priorities as part of a program consolidation proposal.
This sounds like good news. The Ed Week article suggested that this would be the largest education increase since 2003, and the ed community was pleased. For example, it quotes Mary Kusler from the American Association of School Administrators, “We are delighted that despite the freeze on domestic [spending], education will be spared this year.”
But, I am having a little trouble with the math, and expect that the ed community may be feeling differently when they wake up on Monday (the release of the President’s budget) and realize that schools may once again be making cuts. When the stimulus bill passed, everyone knew that the state fiscal stabilization funding was certainly a one-time occurrence, and that states should thank the federal government for the funds, and spend it wisely on one-time things. Many in the education community felt differently about the $13 billion in Title I funds and $12.2 billion in special education funding in the stimulus package. This funding was also technically one-time funding, but there was immediately speculation as to whether some of this funding would effectively become the new base for those two programs. Assuming that this funding was spread over the 2009 and 2010 federal fiscal years, that would mean that schools were spending $12.5 billion more Title I and special education funding in 2010 than was officially in the 2010 budget.
Ed Week says that the President’s new budget will increase education spending by 6.2 percent on a $63.7 billion base. I am not sure where the $63.7 billion comes from. A quick look at the 2010 Budgetshows:
Total discretionary appropriations – $63.7 billion
Title I $15.9
Special education $12.6
School Improvement $5.2
But, these numbers do not include any of the Title I and special education stimulus funds. I am assuming that the Title I and special education stimulus funds did in fact not get folded into the education base budget as many in the education community originally hoped, and that there may be a fiscal cliff coming instead of a large increase.
There is not enough information to know how districts spent there special education and Title I stimulus money, but at least in states that have had serious state and local budget cuts most of this funding probably backfilled for cuts in state and local programs. At least that is what Fordham and others have asserted. For these districts, $12.5 billion in lower federal funding (end of Title I and special education stimulus funds) plus $4 billion in new federal funding may not feel like a federal budget that they will be celebrating. This new math looks a lot like the math that Governor Schwarzenegger used in “protecting” education in California in his latest budget proposal.