Training and College Affordability Priorities in Ed Budget

The Obama Administration has released its 2013 Department of Education budget, with new education investments built to empower states, districts and schools to pursue bold reforms and help young Americans gain the skills and knowledge they need to help rebuild the country’s economy, says the Administration.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said:

“In these tough budget times, the Obama Administration is making a clear statement that high-quality education is absolutely critical to rebuilding our economy.

“If we want to strengthen the American workforce, we must continue to invest in education.”

The U.S. Department of Education has requesting an increase of $1.7 billion or 2.5 percent from the 2012 budget. With the $69.8 billion boost, the President is proposing a $14 billion one-time strategic investment in key reform areas – increasing quality within the teaching profession, boosting education programs with workforce demands and increasing college affordability and quality.

After the success of its Race to the Top programs, the Department of Education has proposed investing $850 million for the 2013 competition to support state and local reforms and initiatives that close achievement gaps and increase student achievement.

“To further support innovation at the local level, the Department is proposing $150 million for the Investing in Innovation fund to develop, evaluate and scale-up evidence-based approaches to improve student achievement, raise graduation rates, and increase teacher and school leader effectiveness,” says a press release.

The Administration is also proposing $8 billion in mandatory funding for a Community College to Career Fund – jointly administered with the U.S. Department of Labor – that gives students crucial skills and prepares them for the high-skill jobs that are in demand.

The Department wants to inject $5 billion in competitive funding to help states and districts better prepare, support and compensate teachers.

“The funds would allow states and districts to invest in the teaching profession while helping to drive reform that would reward effectiveness and performance.”

The Department has also has put aside a quarter of the Title II fund – which comes to about $620 million – to go toward creating and expanding high-performing pathways into teaching and school leadership, reducing shortages of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers, and investing in efforts to enhance the profession.

“In addition, the Department would invest $400 million for the Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund – an increase of $100 million over the current level – to support states and districts that want to implement bold approaches to improve the effectiveness of the education workforce in high-need schools.”

As Obama indicated, the budget addresses college affordability and quality through a plan that encourages shared responsibility among states, colleges, families and the federal government.

“The Department would invest $1 billion for the first year of a Race to the Top: College Affordability and Completion to drive reform on the state level and help students finish faster, and it would expand and reform campus-based aid programs to provide more than $10 billion in student financial aid for colleges that restrain cost increases and provide a good value, especially to disadvantaged students.”

This comes after $14.5 billion for Title I College and Career Ready Students investment and a $534 million for School Turnaround Grants and $11.6 billion for IDEA Part B Grants to states.

Duncan said:

“These investments are absolutely critical, not just for our nation’s students, teachers and schools, but for our country’s economy.

“Through these programs, we can help drive reform that will ultimately strengthen the workforce and create more job opportunities – especially in well-paying, high-demand fields.”