Facing big deficits and the prospect of painful cuts, school officials have been asking for their own federal bailout, and now Uncle Sam could be responding. The proposed federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill includes an estimated $141 billion for education. "It's the 'education community's' dream come true," blogs Mike Petrilli, vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington. But that's not necessarily a good thing: Petrilli and other education pundits are skeptical that the bailout of schools will be good for actual education reform.
Federal lawmakers stress that the proposed stimulus will have "unprecedented accountability measures built in." It's not clear, however, whether Arne Duncan—the reform-minded leader of Chicago schools who is President-elect Barack Obama's choice to lead the Department of Education—is playing a role in attaching any conditions to this proposed pot of education money. Below is the breakdown of how your tax dollars could be spent on education. Federal legislators call this part of the stimulus "Education for the 21st Century." Here are excerpts from their breakdown:
21st Century Classroom
School Construction: $20 billion, including $14 billion for K-12 and $6 billion for higher education, for renovation and modernization, including technology upgrades and energy efficiency improvements. Also includes $100 million for school construction in communities that lack a local property tax base. . . and $25 million to help charter schools build, obtain, and repair schools.
Education Technology: $1 billion for 21st century classrooms, including computer and science labs and teacher technology training.
Higher Education: . . . Pell Grants: $15.6 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500, from $4,850 to $5,350.
College Work-Study: $490 million to support undergraduate and graduate students who work.
Student Loan Limit Increase: Increases limits on unsubsidized Stafford loans by $2,000. . . .
K-12 Education: As states begin tackling a projected $350 billion in budget shortfalls these investments will prevent cuts to critical education programs and services.
IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) Special Education: $13 billion for formula grants. . . .
Title I Help for Disadvantaged Kids: $13 billion for grants to help disadvantaged kids in nearly every school district and more than half of all public schools reach high academic standards.
Statewide Data Systems: $250 million for competitive grants to states to design and develop data systems that analyze individual student data. . . .
Education for Homeless Children and Youth: $66 million. . . .
Improving Teacher Quality: $300 million, including $200 million for competitive grants to school districts and states to provide financial incentives for teachers and principals who raise student achievement and close the achievement gaps in high-need schools and $100 million for competitive grants to states to address teacher shortages and modernize the teaching workforce.
Early Childhood Development
Child Care Development Block Grant: $2 billion to provide child care services for an additional 300,000 children in low-income families. . . .
Head Start: $2.1 billion to provide comprehensive development services to help 110,000 additional children succeed in school. . . .
IDEA Infants and Families: $600 million for formula grants to help states serve children with disabilities age 2 and younger.