K-12: The Obama Administration’s FY 2011 Education Budget — February 2010

President Obama’s education budget for Fiscal Year 2011 calls for $50.7 billion in discretionary spending. This represents an increase of $4.5 billion over the 2010 levels provided to the Department of Education. Within this budget, $1 billion is contingent on Congress reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  ESEA serves as the cornerstone of the federal investment in elementary and secondary education.  Last authorized in 2002 (P.L. 107-110) as the "No Child Left Behind" Act, the law expired in FY 2007 and has not been reauthorized since. While the U.S. House of Representatives and the Administration have included ESEA reauthorization as part of their legislative priorities for the second session of the 111th Congress, it remains a very heavy lift to achieve considering the other items on the national scene, including resolution of health care reform, jobs and the economy.

With regard to programs of importance to psychologists, the President’s budget is largely a mixed bag. Because the budget contains both a blueprint for funding and an outline for ESEA reauthorization, a number of programs of interest to psychologists no longer have a specific, dedicated stream of support in this budget and instead are included in various block grants. 

Programs like the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program, currently funded at $55 million, are slated to be supported as part of the proposed Successful, Safe and Healthily Students program. This umbrella program also would include programs such as Alcohol Abuse and Reduction ($32.7 million), Mental Health Integration in Schools ($5.9 million), and Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities National Activities ($191.3 million). The Javits Gifted and Talented Education Program ($7.5 million) would be included under the new College Pathways and Accelerated Learning block.  The Teacher Quality Partnership Grants ($43 million) are subsumed into the Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund.

It is unclear in the budget how much direction or discretion a state would have to fund or not fund these activities under these new larger block grant programs.
The President’s budget calls for $2.1 billion in funding for higher education with a significant investment in this category for the Pell Grant program. It suggests raising the maximum Pell grant from $5,500 to $5,710. This program provides grants to undergraduate students to support their studies. Most other higher education programs of interest to psychology remain level funded in the president’s budget including: Federal Trio Programs ($910 million in FY ’11); GEAR UP, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs ($323.2 million in FY ’11); Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need ($31 million in FY ’11); and the Javits Fellowship ($9.7 in FY ’11).

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) received a $79.8 million increase in the FY ’11 budget, bringing its total budget request to $738.8 million. Within IES, the Research, Development and Dissemination line received a $60.5 million boost to $260.7 million. Statistics realized a suggested increase of $8.5 million to $117 million and Statewide Data Systems received a boost of $6.7 million to $65 million.  Also receiving a nod in the budget for an increase, Assessment grew from $138.3 million in FY ’10 to $143.8 million in FY ’11. The Research in Special Education remained level funded at $71.1 million for FY’11.