President Obama seeks increase for education spending Image courtesy of AP.

White House budget includes big bucks for education

The White House is asking that the education budget be increased by $1.3 billion, or two percent over the 2014 budget, to $69 billion for fiscal year 2015, according to a March 4th press release from the Department of Education. 

“President Obama’s budget request reflects his strong belief that education is a vital investment in the nation’s economic competitiveness, in its people, and in its communities,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.

As part of the budget request, President Obama proposed a new initiative called Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity (RTT-Opportunity), which would incentivize states and school districts to close the achievement gap. “Despite the encouraging progress we’ve seen, wide opportunity and achievement gaps continue to hurt many families, which puts our nation’s economy and future at risk,” Secretary Arne said. The funding for the RTT-Opportunity would seek to close that gap.

The budget would also include $200 million for teacher technology and database training as part of the ConnetEDucators program and $150 million for a program to encourage high schools to partner with employers and institutions of higher education to give students access to employment experience.

Secretary Arne seemed pleased with the budget that White House is proposing. “We must continue to invest in the reforms taking hold in classrooms across the country, led by the hard work of our educators,” Duncan said. “America’s public schools are the path to the middle class for children from hard-working families in every community, but too many students lack access to the quality education and supports that make the journey to college and the middle class possible.”

Other priorities set out in the budget are providing quality preschool for all four-year-olds, including $1.3 billion set aside for preschools in 2015 and $75 billion over 10 years in mandatory funding, along with $500 million for competitively awarded preschool development grants and other funds; improving affordability in post-secondary education; and improving school safety.

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