President’s FY 2015 Budget Request
This week, the Obama Administration released their Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Requests. This year, a 2% increase in funding is requested for the Department of Education. Although NASP applauds increased funding for public education, this budget proposal renews some concerns NASP has with the way federal funds are spent. According to released budget documents, major initiatives in the Department of for FY2015 include: 1) increasing equity and opportunity; 2) strengthening support for teachers and leaders; 3)expanding high quality preschool programs; 4)affordability and quality in postsecondary education; 5) promoting educational innovation and improvement; and 6) improving school safety and climate. View Complete Budget documents.
Increasing Equity and Opportunity for All Students
The Administration, as well as NASP, remains committed to helping improve equity in education and opportunity for all students. To improve equity, the Administration requested $300 million for a new Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity. This competitive grant program that seeks to close the opportunity and achievement gaps for students attending the nation’s highest-poverty schools. The intent of this grant is well-meaning; however, NASP supports increased investments in formula funded programs, such as Title I and IDEA, that support students attending high poverty schools and students with disabilities. Competitive grant programs come with strings attached and generally benefit the districts that are already implementing successful initiatives and have the resources needed to write successful grant proposals. These grant programs, although intended to close the equity gap, leave out poorer and rural districts that lack the support and resources to compete-the very districts that need these extra funds the most. In this year’s budget request, the formulary funds for Title I and IDEA were level funded. A $100 million increase in IDEA funding was request for a competitive “Results Driven Accountability” grant. NASP encourages Congress to consider increasing investments in formulary grants rather than competitive grants that result in winners and losers and a deeper divide between the haves and the have nots.
Improving School Safety and Climate
NASP is pleased that improving school safety and school climate remains a priority for the Department. The FY2014 Appropriations package contained funding for a number of initiatives designed to reduce violence, improve school safety, and increase access to mental health services. The FY15 budget request includes $50 million for school climate transformation grants and $25 million for Project Prevent, both of which were funded in FY14. However, this budget proposes consolidating several small programs, including the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (ESSCP), into one large Safe, Successful, and Health Students Grant. NASP has long opposed the consolidation or elimination of ESSCP as it is the only federal grant program that allows schools and districts to implement or expand school counseling programs and hire school psychologists, school counselors, and school social workers.
This budget request is just that, a request. Congress must approve funding for current and proposed programs, a process that is already underway. NASP will be working with our allies to fight for increased funding for Title I, IDEA, evidence based initiatives to improve school climate and school safety, and for the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program. We will need your help! Stay tuned for ways to ensure that federal investments in education reach the most students, support poor and rural districts, improve equity for all, and improve access to comprehensive school psychological services for all students.