America’s education system led the world in the 20th Century — we sent generations to college, and cultivated the most educated workforce in the world, which supported an unparalleled period of economic growth and rising middle class incomes. Since then, other countries have followed our lead to develop globally competitive education systems. America must lead the world in education once again. That requires both reform and investment, and the Budget does both — investing in what works to improve student outcomes. The Budget provides $70.7 billion in discretionary funding for Department of Education programs, an increase of $3.6 billion from the 2015 enacted level.

Significant progress has already been made toward improving educational opportunities. By tying investments to evidence-based reforms and focusing on improving student outcomes, the Administration has worked with States across the Nation to raise their learning standards, improve teacher effectiveness, and use data to ensure students graduate from high school prepared for college and a successful career. These investments have given teachers, school districts, and States the tools to turn around some of the Nation’s lowest-performing schools. We are also on our way to connecting 99 percent of students to next-generation broadband in the classroom through the ConnectED initiative. Progress is being made on the President’s goal to prepare 100,000 excellent math and science teachers. Last year, U.S. elementary and middle school students had the highest mathematics and reading scores on record. The high school graduation rate is above 80 percent for the first time in history. More students have been helped to afford college through grants, tax credits, and manageable loans, and today more people are graduating from college than ever before. Further, 1.3 million veterans have been sent to college on the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Tremendous progress has been made in education, but we still have work to do to make sure we are again leading the world with highly-skilled workers who are able to compete in the global economy and are ready for the jobs of tomorrow. The Budget proposes to do that through improving access to early education; preparing elementary and secondary education students for success; increasing access to quality, affordable higher education; and continuing to build the evidence base for what works to improve student outcomes.

Improving Access to High-Quality, Affordable Early Education

Providing children with access to high-quality, early education enables them to start kindergarten ready to succeed and to realize their full potential. Researchers have established that supporting children during this critical stage yields benefits that far outweigh the costs of the investment. This is particularly true for low-income children, who often start kindergarten far less prepared than their peers.

Preschool for All. The Budget maintains support for the President’s landmark Preschool for All proposal to ensure four-year-olds across the Nation have access to high-quality preschool programs. The proposal establishes a Federal-State partnership to provide all low- and moderate-in- come four-year-olds with high-quality preschool, while providing States with incentives to expand these programs to reach additional children from middle class families, and put in place full-day kindergarten policies. The proposal is paid for through an increase in tobacco taxes that will help reduce youth smoking and save lives. To lay the groundwork for this proposal, the Budget provides $750 million for Preschool Development Grants, a substantial increase of $500 million from the 2015 enacted level. The Department of Education’s Preschool Development Grants are currently helping 18 States develop and expand high-quality preschool programs in targeted communities. The Budget also provides $907 million for early intervention and preschool services for children with disabilities, an increase of $115 million from the 2015 enacted level. This proposal includes $15 million for a pay-for-success initiative for early identification of and intervention for learning and developmental delays, with a potential focus on autism, intended to help identify, develop, and scale-up evidence-based practices through innovative public-private partnerships that create incentives for service providers to deliver better outcomes.

Head Start. The Budget makes historic investments in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Head Start program by providing more than $1.5 billion in additional funding over the 2015 enacted level, including $650 million to expand access to high-quality early learning settings for tens of thousands of additional children through Early Head Start and the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. The increased Head Start funding will also ensure that children are served in programs that operate for a full school day and a full school year, which recent research shows promotes better outcomes for young children. In addition, the Budget invests $15 billion over the next 10 years to extend and expand evidence-based, voluntary home visiting programs, which enable nurses, social workers, and other professionals to work with current and expecting parents to help families track their children’s development, identify any health and development issues and connect them to services to address them, and utilize good parenting practices that foster healthy development and early learning. As with Preschool for All, the proposal is paid for through an increase in tobacco taxes. The program builds on research showing that home visiting programs can significantly improve maternal and child health, child development, learning, and success. As discussed below under Supporting Working Families, the Budget also makes historic investments in expanding access to quality, affordable child care. This investment is designed to meet two important purposes — help parents afford child care so they can work and help children access quality care that can support their healthy development.

Preparing All Students for Success in College and Careers

States and school districts have made significant progress toward expanding opportunity so that all children can meet rigorous, college- and career-ready standards and graduate from high school prepared to succeed in a globally competitive economy. Forty-eight States and the District of Columbia have raised standards for learning in their schools and are supporting the hard work of teachers to enable their students to succeed. Parents, educators, and communities have joined together to transform low-performing schools and embark on a new day of learning for students. School districts are making important strides to connect students to high-speed broad-band that will facilitate personalized instruction and link them to a world of learning beyond the classroom. The signs of progress are clear — the high school graduation rate is the highest on record and students are making academic gains. Yet there is a long way to go to ensure that all students, particularly those who are the most disadvantaged, are ready to compete in a global economy.

Title I. The Budget proposes a $1 billion increase from the 2015 enacted level for Title I, the Department’s largest K-12 grant program and the cornerstone of its commitment to supporting low-income schools with the funding necessary to provide high-need students access to an excellent education. In addition, the Budget proposes $100 million to support districts that are using their Federal formula funds for evidence-based interventions, and includes a pilot opportunity for districts that distribute funds to schools more equitably to receive relief from Federal reporting and fiscal requirements. The Budget also includes increases for programs that help other students who face academic hurdles meet rigorous academic standards, including $11.7 billion for special education, an increase of $175 million over 2015 funding, and $773 million for English learners, an increase of $36 million.

Support for Teachers. The Budget invests $3 billion in discretionary funding to provide broad support for educators at every phase of their careers, from ensuring they have strong preparation before entering the classroom, to pioneering new approaches to help teachers succeed in the classroom and equipping them with tools and training they need to implement college- and career-ready standards. Recognizing the importance of integrating technology into the classroom, this investment includes $200 million for an improved Education Technology State Grants program focused on providing educators with training and support to maximize the impact of expanded access to technology to provide high-quality instruction to students.

The Budget also proposes a companion initiative funded at $1 billion annually for five years in mandatory funding that will support State and local efforts to attract more of the best and brightest to the teaching profession and prepare them for the demands of the classroom, while also creating a culture of excellence and professional growth for teachers throughout their careers.

Improving the Nation’s High Schools. The Budget establishes a new $125 million competitive program to promote the redesign of America’s high schools by integrating deeper learning and student-centered instruction, with a particular focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-themed high schools that expand opportunities for girls and other groups underrepresented in STEM fields. The Budget also invests $556 million, a $50 million increase over the 2015 enacted level, in School Improvement Grants, to expand the use of evidence-based approaches to turning around the Nation’s lowest performing schools, including high schools with unacceptably low graduation rates.

Replicating Successful Charter School Models. The Budget proposes $375 million for charter schools, a $122 million increase over the 2015 enacted level. This investment includes a significant emphasis on replicating and expanding those charter schools and models that have been shown to significantly improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged students to new areas in need of high-quality schools.

Building Evidence and Fostering Innovation. The Budget funds the Investing in Innovation program at $300 million, a $180 million increase over the 2015 enacted level, to develop and test effective practices and provide better information to States and districts on what works in key areas such as implementing college- and career-ready standards, using data to inform instruction and personalize learning, and improving low-performing schools. Across every dimension, the Budget continues the Administration’s efforts to build a much stronger evidence base on what works in education.

Strengthening Opportunities for Native Youth. The Budget supports a comprehensive redesign and reform of the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to provide students attending BIE-funded schools with a world-class education, transforming that agency to serve as a capacity-builder and service-provider for Tribes in educating their youth. Investments in the Budget for DOI include funding to: improve opportunities and outcomes in the classroom; provide improved instructional services and teacher quality; promote enhanced language and cultural programs; enhance broadband and digital access; rebuild schools and improve school infrastructure and facilities; and provide grants to incentivize creative solutions to school transformations. The Budget also supports new Native Youth Community Projects at the Department of Education, to provide funding in a select number of Native communities that would support culturally relevant, coordinated strategies to improve the college-and-career readiness of Native children and youth.

Delivering a Quality, Affordable College Education to Millions of Americans

Today, more than ever, Americans need more knowledge and skills to meet the demands of a growing global economy. A college education opens the door to opportunity — for individuals and, in turn, for the Nation as a whole. That is why the President is committed to making a college education affordable and accessible and to undertaking reforms that improve quality and performance, ensuring that the United States once again leads the world in college completion, as it did a generation ago. This effort requires a multi-pronged strategy that includes a strong Pell Grant Program that expands opportunity for low- and moderate-income students; a student loan program that helps students and families make sound financial choices and ensures student debt stays manageable; key investments in America’s higher education system that make two years of college free for responsible students, ensuring affordable, high-quality community college options for students seeking occupational training or a stepping stone to a four-year degree; and a simpler, better targeted tax system that helps families pay for college. But affordability is not enough. Colleges also need to help students from all backgrounds, including disadvantaged and academically underprepared students, to persist and ultimately succeed. A number of leading colleges and States have already begun to successfully meet these challenges and demonstrate what is possible — the Budget builds on these lessons and the steps the Administration has already taken to improve higher education access, affordability, and quality.

Investing in Pell Grants. Over the course of this Administration, the maximum Pell Grant for working and middle class families has gone up by more than $1,000, to nearly $5,800 in award year 2015–16, and the Budget will continue the President’s commitment to college affordability by ensuring that Pell Grants keep pace with inflation. The Budget also proposes strengthening academic progress requirements in the Pell Grant program and provides a College Opportunity and Graduation Bonus to successful schools, to ensure that students make progress toward completing their degrees.

Making Two Years of Community College Free for Responsible Students and Strengthening the Quality of Community Colleges. The Budget includes a new proposal to ensure all Americans have the opportunity to pursue and succeed in higher education, with a goal of making two years of college as universal as high school. The new grant program will provide funding to States that agree to waive tuition and fees at community colleges for eligible students, increase their own investment by matching the Federal funds, and undertake a set of reforms to improve the quality of community colleges. In addition, the Budget includes $200 million to create a postsecondary American Technical Training Fund within the Career and Technical Education program, which would create or expand job-training programs with strong employer partnerships to provide accelerated training in in-demand fields.

Making the Tax System Simpler and More Effective at Supporting Families and Students. The Budget proposes to expand, simplify, and better target education tax benefits, building on the Administration’s success in creating the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

Making Student Loans Work for Students. The Budget continues to propose reforms to Pay-As-You-Earn, an income-based repayment option, to ensure that the program is well-targeted while making student loan payments manageable. It also supports improvements to the loan programs to ensure that borrowers can make sound choices.

Using Evidence to Improve Higher Education. Through a $200 million investment in the First in the World program, a $140 million increase over the 2015 enacted level, the Administration will scale-up promising evidence-based practices that aim to improve college affordability, persistence, and completion for more of America’s students and families. The Budget also includes an additional $20 million for innovative, evidence-based approaches in the TRIO programs.

You’ve just read Chapter 2.3:
High Quality, Affordable Education: From Pre-k to College

Read next Chapter 2.4:
Wall Street Reform

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