President Obama's fiscal year 2010 request for the Department of Education will build on the historic investment in education provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to leverage significant improvements in early childhood education, more effective reform of elementary and secondary education, and expanded opportunities for students to enter and complete a college education. The request is focused on the following areas:
Early Childhood Programs
The 2010 request will provide additional resources, on top of those provided in the Recovery Act, to help States build high-quality "Zero to Five" early childhood programs. These resources will leverage state and local investment in early childhood education, support coordination at all levels of government to ensure seamless delivery of services, and help give parents the information they need to choose a high-quality program that meets the needs of their children.
Stronger Standards and Assessments
The department's 2010 budget also will help states develop and implement rigorous, college-ready academic achievement standards along with improved assessments, including assessments for students with disabilities and English language learners, to accurately measure students' knowledge and skills.
More Effective Teaching and School Leadership
The 2010 request will support a wide range of efforts to strengthen the education workforce, including greater accountability for teacher and principal preparation programs; improved systems and strategies for recruiting, evaluating, and supporting teachers; and incentives for rewarding effective teachers and encouraging them to teach where they are most needed.
Scaling Up Success
The department will continue to use the Innovation Fund to identify and replicate successful models and strategies that raise student achievement, including comprehensive approaches such as Promise Neighborhoods that aim to improve college-going rates by combining a rigorous K 12 education with a full network of neighborhood-based social services. In addition, the 2010 budget will help turn around high-need, low-performing schools by giving states additional resources to diagnose and address the root causes of low performance. Finally, the request will increase funding for education research on both promising practices and the effectiveness of Federal education programs.
A Stronger, More Reliable Pell Grant Program
For decades, the Pell Grant program, the foundation of federal postsecondary financial assistance for students from low-income families, has failed to keep pace with the rising costs of a college education. Moreover, the program has been plagued by funding shortfalls that complicate the federal appropriations process and threaten the funding of other federal education programs. To address these problems once and for all, the 2010 request not only would increase the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,550, but also would index the Pell Grant maximum award to the Consumer Price Index plus 1 percent and eliminate discretionary shortfalls by moving Pell Grants to the mandatory side of the budget.
A Less Costly, More Reliable Student Loan Program
The department's guaranteed student loan program (Federal Family Education Loans) includes subsidies for private lenders that have needlessly cost taxpayers billions of dollars over the past 30 years, while also subjecting students and families to uncertainty because of turmoil in the financial markets. The 2010 request would stabilize the postsecondary student loan programs and save taxpayers $4 billion annually by originating all new loans in the direct lending program (Direct Loans).
Helping More Students Enter and Complete College
The administration also will simplify the student aid application process, but it is not enough to simply enroll more students in college; we must do a better job of giving all students, especially students from low-income families, the support they need to complete school. This is why the 2010 request includes a new, five-year $2.5 billion Access and Completion Incentive Fund that will support innovative State efforts to improve college completion rates for low-income students.