President Obama announced Tuesday that his administration’s 2015 budget proposal will include an increase of $1.3 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Education. The President is asking to expand early education, strengthen teacher support and create new programs that will help combat inequality in America’s public schools.
The education portion of the $4 trillion budget totals $69 billion, including $300 million to build a new Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity competition, $70 million to expand state data collection systems and $1.3 billion (with another $75 billion added over the next ten years) to implement universal preschool programs for all 4-year-olds. Obama stated that education “has to start at the earliest possible ages” for students to find success as adults, a sentiment shared by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
“America’s public schools strive to offer a path to the middle class for children from hardworking families in every community, particularly those living in poverty,” said Duncan. “Yet too many students still lack access to the education and support that make the journey to the middle class possible.”
However, many GOP legislators aren’t on board with the plan. A recent House Budget Committee report shows mixed results regarding the effects of early-education, slamming the 50-year-old Head Start program by saying it is failing to prepare children for school. Reports by the Department of Health and Human Services back up that claim, stating that the program has little to no impact on the cognitive and social-emotional skills of children and is vulnerable to fraud.
Yasmina Vinci, executive director of the National Head Start Association, hopes policy makers will look at the hard facts when deciding to give out funding for early education.
“Hundreds of additional studies over four decades have confirmed beyond doubt that Head Start participants enter kindergarten at an advantage and are better prepared for life and education than their peers,” Vinci says.