Under the 2012 budget that President Obama released today, early education would not only receive protection from the budget knife, but additional dollars as well. The Obama administration’s request to Congress proposes increases in funding for child care grants and Head Start, as well as Title I and special education programs.
The budget also includes a request for $350 million to establish the Early Learning Challenge Fund – a program that nearly became law in the middle of the health care reform debates last spring, only to be left on the cutting room floor a few days before the health care bill’s passage.
The proposal amounts to a proposed boost in funding of between $2 billion and $3 billion for early learning programs, and possibly more, depending on how much money in programs like Race to the Top and Striving Readers would actually be used to serve children younger than 9.
The table below displays a breakdown of what President Obama has proposed for fiscal year 2012 compared to what he requested last year and compared to the levels of funding that Congress voted for in 2010.
You’ll see blanks in the FY11 appropriations column because it is not possible to compare the fiscal year 2012 budget request to what Congress appropriated. That’s because, even though four months of the fiscal year have already passed, Congress has yet to vote on a 2011 budget. At the moment, in most cases, federal programs are operating at 2010 levels.
As you peruse the table below, remember that Obama’s request is just that – a request. Given the hunger on Capitol Hill for sharp cuts in federal spending, the chances of Congress going along with his wish list are slim. It’s also important to note, however, that Obama did request belt-tightening elsewhere, suggesting the elimination of the year-round grants within the Pell Grant program, and reducing funding for Great Lakes clean-up, for home-heating assistance for the poor, and for community development programs, among other cuts.
Early Ed Watch and our sister blog, Ed Money Watch, will be analyzing the budget in detail this week and throughout the next month. And we will continue to update our FY11 coverage as developments unfold.Stay tuned.