Bait And Switch On Ed Funding?

Eduwonk notes sadly that fishing season is about over in the mid-Atlantic region but nonetheless, here’s a little bait and switch for you.

Education spending has increased dramatically during the past few years. On the campaign trail President Bush liked to point out that spending for No Child Left Behind related programs was up about 49 percent in his first term. Fair enough, though one can quibble about allocations (for instance why Washington is not investing more in assessments) the overall numbers are pretty big which may be why Democratic attacks about “full funding” for NCLB fell flat.

But, the numbers in the budget that Congress is about to pass, the first since the President’s reelection, are less robust:

Department of Education: FY05 level is $56.6 billion, an increase of approximately $900 million, or 1.6%, over FY04. This is the smallest percentage increase in 9 years (since FY96). It’s almost $2.3 billion below the FY05 Senate bill level and almost $800 million below the FY05 President’s budget request.

No Child Left Behind: FY05 level is $24.5 billion, an increase of $58 million, or 0.2%, over FY04. This is almost $1 billion below the FY05 Senate bill level and almost $400 million less than the FY05 President’s budget. This means that No Child Left Behind Act spending is about $9.8 billion less than the authorized amount in FY05.

Title I: FY05 level is $12.7 billion, an increase of $400 million, or 3.2%, over FY04. This is $700 million below the FY05 Senate bill level and $600 million below the FY05 President’s budget.

IDEA: FY05 level is $10.6 billion, an increase of approximately $500 million, or 5.2%, over FY04. This puts IDEA spending at about 19% of average-per-pupil-expenditure and less than half the “full funding” level of 40%. The final figure is $600 million less than the FY05 Senate bill level and almost $500 million below the FY05 President’s budget.

Title V Innovative Education State Grants: $198.4 million, a cut of $98 million from FY04.

Granted, the increases of the past few years mean that education will surely survive a slowdown but these numbers indicate that perhaps the high water mark for Bush Administration spending on education has been reached. We’ll know more when the President’s FY06 budget comes out in February.

To be sure, we can’t spend our way out of some of the educational problems we face, but there is a role for money.

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