President’s Budget…It’s Not That It Is Small, It’s That It Thinks Small

President Bush’s FY 2008 Budget Request is out. Eduhighlights here.

You’ll hear a lot of back and forth about the funding levels, though it’s hard to really say that education has been shortchanged relative to other non-defense discretionary programs over the past six years. Rather, the critique I’d level is that this budget is pretty unimaginative. There are plenty of little initiatives but where are the big ideas on par with the scale of the problem?

Increases for Title I are nice, and trying to put a bit more into the Teacher Incentive Fund is fine, too, (though it’s being used as an offset in the battle on FY07 approps now, not a great sign). But what about some big investments in creating new public schools*, R and D, or really attacking the human capital problem? Sort of a snoozer on those issues and they’re hardly minor issues. Leaves the door open for an ’08 candidate to hit Bush not on spending small but on thinking small…

All that said, money matters to the possibility of any NCLB deal this year so keep an eye on the back and forth in that context.

Ying-Yang: One juxtaposition worth nothing, the growing emphasis on school improvement is good albeit overdue, but flat funding IDEA is not. Funding IDEA is a good way to free up some funds at the local level.

*For instance an investment in charter school authorizing which is not only a new schools piece but also an accountability piece as well because it gets at different ways to hold small schools accountable.

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