Federal funding for the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program would drop from $270 million to $100 million, a 63 percent cut, under President Obama’s proposed $3.4 trillion budget for fiscal year 2010.
Four leading ed-tech groups expressed "great disappointment" in the Obama Administration’s proposed cut. On May 7, the Consortium for School Networking, International Society for Technology Education, Software & Information Industry Association, and State Educational Technology Directors Association released the following joint statement, which read in part:
“During the past several months, the Obama Administration has outlined a vision of educational innovation and improvement to enable our nation’s children to compete in the global economy. But today’s budget proposal falls far short of the targeted investments needed to ensure all students have the modernized classrooms and technology-rich instruction needed to achieve this vision."
Although Obama has requested a $170 million cut to EETT funding next year, the program did receive an additional $650 million for the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years in the economic stimulus package.
According to a program description on the U.S. Department of Education (ED) web site, the proposed EETT cut "reflects the significant amount of funds available [for educational technology] under the Recovery Act."
Overall, the president’s budget request, unveiled May 7, allocates $46.7 billion for ED—an increase of $1.3 billion from 2009.
In a conference call with reporters, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the budget "makes tough decisions," but is intended to "give educators the resources they need to turn around the schools in the most trouble."
Building on Obama’s pledge to help students obtain a college education, one aspect of the proposed budget would boost the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,500, with increases for inflation plus 1 percent, Duncan said.
"This administration is committed to helping any student who wants to attend college pay for it," he added.
Obama’s mandatory funding proposals would make available more than $129 billion in new grants, loans, and work-study assistance for postsecondary students in 2010, an increase of $31.7 billion, or 32 percent, over the 2008 level.
Under the proposed budget, Title I would receive $12.9 billion, down from 2009’s $14.5 billion, but Title I also received an extra $13 billion in the stimulus act.
Duncan said $1.5 billion of those Title I funds have been directed to other ED priorities, including $500 million for Early Childhood Grants and $300 million for the Early Learning Challenge Fund, both new programs this year. An additional $50 million is intended to help high school graduation rates, which would be used to identify promising practices in dropout prevention.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants to states would remain at $11.5 billion–the same funding as in 2009. The program received an $11.3 billion in the stimulus package.
Math and Science Partnerships would receive $179 million, a funding level that has remained stable since 2008.
Duncan has said that turning around poor-performing schools, improving teacher quality, and establishing strong early childhood education are essential to the department’s mission.
Toward that end, Improving Teacher Quality State Grants would receive nearly $3 billion, and the Teacher Incentive Fund would get $717 million–$517 million from the 2010 budget and $200 million from the economic stimulus package, up from $100 million in 2009.
"We can’t do enough to recognize and reward excellence," Duncan added.
The entire budget would cut 121 federal programs for $17 billion in savings. Of those 121 federal programs, 12 are in the Education Department and, based on 2009 budget appropriations figures, would free up about $550 million.
Duncan said each ED program was researched thoroughly, and that many of them were too small to have a significant impact.
ED has "a very strong reform agenda, and [must be] absolutely fiscally responsible at the same time," Duncan said.
Obama’s budget plan still must pass both chambers of Congress, and observers expect several changes before a final version is approved.