Obama Continues his Commitment to Ensure America's Students are Prepared for the Future

On Monday, President Barack Obama officially unveiled his budget for 2013.  As he spoke from Northern Virginia Community College, Obama highlighted the more than $65 billion in education funding focused on resources dedicated to transforming K-12 and postsecondary education to ensure students have the skills and knowledge to succeed in the future.

Bold reforms are taking place around the country and the 2013 budget will build on these pockets of success by requesting $69.8 billion for the Department of Education, a $1.7 billion increase above 2012 funding levels.  Although resources will continue to focus on improving early learning and K-12 education, there is a deliberate focus on postsecondary education reform combining both a reduction in costs and efforts to increase degree attainment and successful outcomes for students.

"In these tough budget times, the Obama Administration is making a clear statement that high-quality education is absolutely critical to rebuilding our economy" U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said on Monday.  "If we want to strengthen the American workforce, we must continue to invest in education."  A combination of continuing proven reform efforts, ensuring teachers are adequately prepared for the classroom, connecting job skills with workforce demand and increasing college access and success are paramount to the budget goals of creating educated workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Highlights of the funding request include:

  • $850 million for Race to the Top and $100 million for Promise Neighborhoods;
  • $1.1 billion in Career and Technical Education programs that will connect what they learn in school with job demands in the 21st Century;
  • $260 million for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs including $80 million to recruit and prepare 100,000 new high-quality STEM teachers over the next 10 years;
  • Making the American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent, suspending an increase in student loan interest rates, and helping secure the Pell Grant program;
  • Creates a new competitive program for higher education called Race to the Top:  College Affordability and Completion as well as First in the World competition which will support the development, evaluation and scaling of promising practices to improve student achievement and reduce costs.
  • Additional $12 million for Institute of Education Services; research and development and sustained funding for Investing in Innovation; and
  • New interagency efforts focused on coordinating services for disadvantaged children and disconnected youth.

States will be encouraged to continue transformational strategies and promote innovation. Programs such as Race to the Top, Promise Neighborhoods and Investing in Innovation have all seen encouraging results to date.  The Administration continues these programs as well as School Turnaround Grants to help states and districts turn around the lowest-performing schools, flexibility in exchange for smart reforms such as the ESEA waivers offered in exchange for comprehensive reforms and efforts to strengthen the teaching profession to ensure there is an effective teacher in all classrooms.

Postsecondary education saw an increased emphasis as the President tied skilled workers to rebuilding the country's economy.  Initiatives in the budget request focus on making college more affordable and making sure that students reach their goal of degree attainment.  Efforts will address tackling college costs through federal, state, institution and family cooperation.  Investments will be made to the Pell Grants, states must re-emphasize their commitment to postsecondary education, institutions must ensure innovation occurs at their level and families and students must be empowered with information.  Community colleges also will see a hightened focus on their work as $8 billion has been requested for the Community College to Career Fund to increase training programs aligned to industry needs.  Career Academies will see $1 billion and an additional $1.15 billion will go to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

On Tuesday, as the U.S. Deparment of Education offered its briefing on the budget, Secretary Arne Duncan noted "Education has to be the one thing we work together on. This is the right thing to do for the country."

To see the President's FY2013 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Education, go to:  http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget13/index.html