The White House budget proposal shows that the president wants to boost discretionary spending for the Department of Education by 4.6 percent, to $71.2 billion. That’s in addition to $14.5 billion the federal government gives to states to help educate poor children and another $11.6 billion sent to states to pay for the schooling for disabled students.
Obama is proposing several new initiatives aimed at expanding pre-school to all low- and moderate-income four-year-olds, improving high school and streamlining federal programs that support education in science, technology, engineering and math. He wants to expand on the competitive grants that have become a signature of his education policy, this time creating a college version of Race to the Top, which would award $1 billion in competitive grants to states that make college more affordable.
The budget calls for $300 million for a new program that would reward high schools that develop partnerships with employers and local colleges and redesign secondary education so that high school students are learning skills needed for careers and college.
In his State of the Union address, the president highlighted an example of this kind of re-engineered high school, P-TECH in New York City. A partnership between IBM, the City University of New York and the public school system, P-TECH is the nation’s first 9-14 school, where students can earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) plans to open 10 more high schools in his state modeled after P-TECH.
The president wants to consolidate 90 programs that exist among 11 different federal agencies that are aimed at improving STEM education into one initiative managed by the Department of Education with help from the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution.
The new, streamlined $180 million program would focus on four areas: K-12 instruction, undergraduate education, graduate fellowships and less formal educational activities that take place outside classrooms.