$100 Billion to Education in Obama's Stimulus Package

Despite uncertainties, some trends emerge in the federal government's plans for school spending.

Despite uncertainties, some trends emerge in the federal government's plans for school spending.
A pile of money with a paper that reads
Credit: iStock

The $100 billion in education monies in the economic-stimulus package aims to stem huge cuts by states, fund programs for special education, low-income students, and early-childhood initiatives, and provide incentive to everyone, from teachers to state officials, to think in terms of reform.

Congress approved the $787 billion economic stimulus bill on Friday, and President Obama is expected to sign it Tuesday. The money for education will help President Obama make good on promises to help the nation's K-12 schools, though it's about $50 billion less than the first draft passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and leaves open a lot of questions about when and how the money will be distributed -- and whether it will be enough. The majority of the difference came from losing school-construction money and decreasing the amount states will get.

Here's what we do know:

Under the bill, states will get $53.6 billion in what's called the state stabilization fund. Most of that money (about $39 billion) goes toward helping states restore cut programs, which, depending on the state, have included early-childhood education, after-school programs, professional-development money, and actual school staff. That money will go out more quickly, based on a formula, so schools aren't left wondering if they have to shorten their school year this year or make staff layoffs for the next school year.

Stripped from the bill is money for school construction. The funding, about $17 billion in the version first passed by the House, was a huge obstacle for the U.S. Senate and stayed out when the bill got through a compromise committee. Instead, states can draw from $8.8 billion in the state stabilization fund for high-priority needs.

In what the Obama administration considers its reform piece of the stimulus package, there's $5 billion in incentive grants, which U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan calls "race to the top" money. Logically, this money won't be available until 2010, after states are able to put their stabilization funds in place. To get a grant, a state has to show how it's in compliance with a few measures under the No Child Left Behind Act already required under the law. They also have to put in place a statewide data system to measure student progress and make sure their standards lead students to college or other postsecondary training.

The grant does leave open a few questions, including how states will prove they're doing everything right, and what they'll do with their incentive money. Duncan says it's intended to make students and schools more competitive globally. Also included in the $5 billion is $650 million for more innovative programs, to "scale up what works" in schools, Duncan adds. How that money will get doled out is unclear.

"We have to educate our way to a better economy," Duncan says. "This represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something."

Other money in the stimulus package for education:

  • $2.1 billion for Early Head Start and Head Start, the early-childhood programs for low-income children ages 0-5. It's estimated this funding will affect about 124,000 infants and preschool children.
  • $13 billion for Title I, the program that aids schools with a high number of low-income students to help fund extra programs.
  • $12.2 billion for IDEA, a program for special education grants.
  • $200 million for the Teacher Incentive Fund, which supports programs for teacher-performance pay.
Alexandra R. Moses is a freelance writer in the Washington, DC, area who specializes in education.

This article originally published on 2/13/2009

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Comments (41)

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Yvonne Hambrick (not verified)

Teacher Forgiveness Loans

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I am an Intervention Specialist, I hold a M.A. ED in Moderate to Severe Disabilities. I obtained a B.A, in 1991 and I have been teaching ever since. Well, I was told that my loans would be forgiven if I taught in this area and especially in teacher shortage areas. I consolidated my loans at the advice of the federal government. All my loans even those before 1989. Now I cannot get any of my loans forgiven. I am among thousands of teachers who find themselves in this dilemma. I would like to make congress ware of this mistake. How do I proceed? I have written both congress and the White House.
Educationally Yours,
Yvonne Hambrick

Barrett Brooks (not verified)

School Owners

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My wife owns an Allied Health Care school and was very interested in how the stimulus package can help with the strain of running an affective program. We recieve students from government agencies such as One-Stop and Unemployment. NJ is one of the hardest states to get any support or information on money available for minority business technical schools.

Kate (not verified)

I am a teacher in a district

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I am a teacher in a district in Minnesota where performance pay is already in place. We have had performance pay in place for 3 years and it has been extremely effective. The teachers have a lot of say in how the program is set up at the get go and the union has to agree to it before it is put in place. It has put extra money in our pockets for things we have been doing for years and not getting compensated for. Another positive to the system is that most of the additional compensation programs are optional and available to all teachers so that if you want to earn more money you can, but if you choose not to do them you will not be compensated. In response to your concern for special education teachers, each teacher sets their own goal for the year based on the performance of their students using whatever assessment process they deem to effectively measure progress or growth. For example, my goal this year stated that my students would improve their MAP test score (NWEA) in reading by X%. This number was decided on based on my students previous performance. So you see the goals are not a "one size fits all" model as to not punish teachers who work with needy students. The Title I teachers in our building base their goal on their students' baseline data and then decide what the typical growth would be for those students and that is how they set their goal for the year. Again tailored to their students and how they would typically grow in a years time. The district and administration doesn't set forth these goals, but they may have some input as to how these goals are set. And they will keep track of goals and data so that staff is paid appropriately.

I hope this helps!
-Kate

Mike (not verified)

My mother has been a teachers

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My mother has been a teachers aid for the past 20 something years. She makes a meaningless $9/hr, and takes the brunt of the abuse. She works 1 on 1 with emotionally disturbed children and that is what she gets for her efforts (black eyes, bite marks, gets slapped around and basically protects the teacher) but because teachers have degrees they make a ton more. I'm not suggesting paying them like the teachers but how about $13/$15/hr. In the end how can they live off that? They can't!

ObserverNY (not verified)

Title I and IB

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Americans should be very concerned about the language in this bill and the appropriation of $13 BILLION dollars for Title I schools to expand "programs". One of the "programs" that this administration will push for expansion is the International Baccalaureate (IB).

President Obama is on record as providing tremendous support for IB, dating back to his days on the Annenberg Challenge in Chicago with Bill Ayers. In 1997, there was only one IB school in Chicago. In 2009, there are 26, however none of them have shown significant improvement in student achievement.

IB is used for social manipulation and to benefit the Eurocrats at IBO which is an NGO of the UN. Learn the facts at:

http://www.truthaboutib.com

M. Richardson (not verified)

Clearly students with home

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Clearly students with home difficulties may have a measureable effect on their academic achievements however, that scenario has become the scapegoat that has fueled the overall reasoning for the failure of many Title I schools. I received my educational foundation before Brown vs Board of Education. During that time, many students of color came from low-income homes with difficuties associated with poverty. In addition, were households where family members could not read, write or comprehend their childen's assignments. Thus, there was no help at home. The public school system and teachers understood that they were responsibile for every elements for their students learning. Despite all of the dollars already spent on education a great majority our children are not receiving a quality education. One must ponder whether the new 200 million dollars earmarked for teacher incentive in Title I schools will generate the quality teaching necessary to provide a quality education to our children. It is not clear what measures are built in to track teacher or student successfulness. Nonetheless, I don't expect to see large measureable improvements without the educational systems taking on full responsibility for student's academic success. By doing so, teachers must begin students learning process where they are and not hold students responsibile for knowing nothing that the school failed to teach them. Therefore, to answer Ellen Dokton and Sharon G.'s question as to what are teachers to do that are working in poorly funded schools with students kids who present a variety of difficulties at home and school, use the internet for teaching resources including improving teaching skills, show the kids respect, and geniunely love the field of teaching, all of which are the prescription for great educators.

Cat Lynch (not verified)

Worried that Incentive Pay will punish Special Ed.

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I am a Special Education teacher in a low-income area at a school that is
struggling. I'm happy that there will be more money for Special Education and
Title 1 programs but I'm worried that the Teacher Incentive program will punish
those who work with the neediest students such as Special Education.

-C

Ellen Dokton (not verified)

Education

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I teach pre-service teachers. My goal is to provide them with the tools to be able to work effectively with learners with a variety of learning challenges and strengths. I love the idea of using technology to all for students to connect with the key elements they are learning, but, like Sharon G. said, what do teachers do who are in poorly funded public schools working with kids who present a variety of home as well as school difficulties?

Sharon G (not verified)

I am a teacher, and I clean

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I am a teacher, and I clean my classroom along with the bathrooms (girls and boys) on a rotating basis with other staff everyday. I work in an underfunded, public, alternative school. My vote would be to continue this arrangement so I could receive funds for much needed supplies, and educator compensation.

Brandon Rodriguez (not verified)

Education

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Yes but what about the staff not just the teachers!!!!!!!!!! the teachers aids the maintenance staff? The people who are in the back ground, with out them these school would not functions. Yes teachers teach the kids, but with out a clean bathroom for them to use, or a clean classroom, or a play ground that is safe what good are they to the kids. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Anyone think about that?

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