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Obama Continues Universal Preschool Push in Budget

The $71 billion request covers across-the-board increases to finance early learning, K-12 improvements, high school retention and career readiness.

by
Tricia McCarter-Joseph

Bio

April 26, 2013 - 12:27 am

WASHINGTON — Making good on his State of the Union comments to provide “high quality preschool for every child,” President Obama this month put forward his budget proposal for the Department of Education that includes new funding to create and expand a nationwide preschool program.

The $71 billion request covers across-the-board increases to finance early learning, K-12 improvements, high school retention and career readiness, rewarding teachers and leaders, strengthening school safety, and other existing programs.

Speaking before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, Education Secretary Arne Duncan noted that the U.S. lags behind other industrialized countries in education investment. More importantly, he stressed low-income students here have to deal with higher student-to-teacher ratios than kids at more prestigious schools.

“The United States has fallen behind much of the rest of the world in providing high-quality learning opportunities for young children,” said W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Added Secretary Duncan in his address, “You won’t see our high-performing competitors funding education by sequester.”

But education experts are excited about the proposed Preschool for All, a federal-state collaboration to offer early learning to 4 year olds for families up to 200 percent of the poverty line, which will include both low- and moderate-income families.

The plan allots $1.3 billion for 2014 and $75 billion over the next 10 years. Another $750 million will be available for competitive Preschool Development Grants.

Secretary Duncan explained that “states would be required to meet quality benchmarks,” including a “plan to implement comprehensive assessment and data systems.”

According to Barnett, 40 states already operate pre-K education programs, but, he said, some do suffer in either providing enough access or offering programs of quality.

However, the federal Head Start program has been labeled in the past as being underfunded. But Barnett said he is optimistic that, since the president’s proposal require that states implement quality programs with teacher salaries that are adequate to hire effective teachers, it shouldn’t succumb to the demise of government spreading “too little money across too many voters.”

The president is hoping to fund the nationwide preschool plan by increasing taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. It does not foster perpetual federal funding, according to Barnett, but it will serve as a “means to jump start state efforts.”

“The funding formula decreases the federal match gradually over time,” Barnett said.

Although not prominent, the education budget also proposes to align student loan rates with current market rates and to again repeal the scheduled July 1 interest rate hikes, which were a cause of concern to millions of college students last year as well as a key talking point for Obama on the campaign trail. If successful the measure would keep interest rates on subsidized Stafford Loans from doubling to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent.

Also, the budget has requested funding to improve school security, with an emphasis on emergency management and crisis response plans, including $25 million for Project Prevent grants to help schools break the cycle of violence within their communities.

Critics of the president’s overall budget request label it “overstuffed.”

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) called the budget “overstuffed with spending and tax increases that will continue to hinder economic growth.”

“Mandatory, auto-pilot spending on entitlement programs – the driver of our deficits and the root of our spending problem – must be substantially reformed to bring down costs, not just given a passing nod,” he said. “This, combined with the president’s proposed tax increases, will only perpetuate the nation’s deficits and debt, taking the nation further away from a balanced budget, financial stability, and economic growth.”

The ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee decried Obama’s budget as one that “raises taxes and never balances.”

“There will have to be additional steps if we’re going to make a serious attempt to fix the debt and avoid having young Americans forever be known as the debt-paying generation,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).

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Top Rated Comments   
I wonder when handing your child over to the state as soon as it's born will become mandatory?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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AAAAhhh Yes! The Obama Youth!! I wonder how that will turn out.

I can't wait for my grandchildren to turn me in for my Conservative Libertarian ways.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
This just falls in line with Melissa Harris-Perry's claim that children don't belong to the parents - they belong to the People['s Republik?] - and must attend the propaganda institutes.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Head Start's proper target was the moms. This is in the principle of aiming the pistol rather than redirecting the bullet in flight. The proposed scheme is just to turn all preschool into government employees with unions and expand the Department of Education employees tasked with overview.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sure, everything else they've done has been so remarkably successful. Let's continue regardless of their output!! Isn't that how they do it in the government schools, anyway? And now we have more teachers to enroll in unions, and more families to ensnare in welfare. I can't think of anything left for the Imperial prez to do that would have such a profound effect on our country. And after all, Wisconsin has shown that the nation is SO supportive of this sort of largesse. No matter. Bring on the clowns.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
We all have the suspicion that O is not sane (leftists definitely have a mental disease). This shows just how insane and incompetent Dear Leader is.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
My perception is that programs like the ones described in this article are dreamed up by ivory tower theorists, then put into practice at huge expense without having any idea if they will even work, then allowed to run until the next big idea comes along, even if they are having negative (and even VERY negative) net results. Frankly, I think that's an insane way to proceed.

If I was running things, every one of these supposedly brilliant and wonderful new programs would get tested on a smallish, temporary scale before it got made into a permanent, national program. I would make sure the program was given a fair evaluation for a reasonable time in a limited but typical area. For instance, try this very early education in one city for a year or two. It would have to deliver the expected results though before it got rolled out on a national basis. And even then, it should only be funded a few years at a time; if a longer implementation found that it wasn't working very well in the long term, like Head Start, it would not be funded further unless it was better than going back to the old way.

Frankly, EVERY new social program should get tested the same way before it is implemented, not just ones that deal with education of young children. Heck, even things that weren't social programs as such should get tested before they are widely implemented. For example, having women in frontline military units or Obamacare. Try these things on a LIMITED basis first to see if they actually work acceptably before rolling them out everywhere.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wonder when handing your child over to the state as soon as it's born will become mandatory?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Our public high school is in the top 3% of the nation. The honors classes are huge, there are over 30 students in most of them. It doesn't appear to be causing any problems for the students to be in such a large class. In fact, the competition is helpful.

I thought head start was already studied, and it was determined that it didn't make a long term difference for the students. By 3rd grade they were no better off. My brother went to head start and it didn't help him at all. In fact, it may have been going to head start that had him tracked into "slow" class when he got to the public grade school. The school didn't want to take him out of slow class. He was pigeonholed. He's not slow, he's a physicist.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
A problem,a speed bump in the road is the family unit,which traditionally has had little use for Government.Big things happen,mega shifts occur when you split the atom! Our mad scientist helmsman never strays off course.That's President Obama's target,that's Obama's true enemy,that's Goliath's danger,the intact Family!
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
More precisely pre-voters.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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