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President's Budget Continues To Shortchange Children and Public Education

Forty-seven education programs eliminated


WASHINGTON - February 04, 2008 -

Just days after he paid lip service to the value of education in his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush today unveiled sweeping cuts to critical education programs. The president's proposed budget for the 2009 fiscal year eliminates 47 education programs and continues what has been the administration’s three-pronged financial policy for education: cuts, cuts and more cuts.

"It's baffling that the president can tout No Child Left Behind, and then days later cut vital programs educators need to comply with the law," said NEA President Reg Weaver. "If the president can find hundreds of millions of dollars for a new pet voucher project, there's no excuse for denying public schools and students the resources they need to be successful."

The president proposes eliminating the single biggest source of federal money for high schools—Career and Technical Education, a $1.3 billion program—without offering a replacement. He also proposes cutting after-school programs by $281 million and then funneling the remaining $800 million into another new school voucher scheme.

The president proposes eliminating 47 programs and cutting 16, including:

  • Teacher Quality State Grants, cut by $100 million
  • Safe and Drug-Free Schools State Grants, cut by $194.8 million
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers, cut by $281 million
  • Parent Information Centers, cut by $38.9 million and eliminated
  • Tech Prep, cut by $103 million and eliminated
  • Education Technology State Grants, cut by $267.5 million and eliminated
  • Even Start, cut of $66.5 million and eliminated
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants for low-income college students, cut by $758 million and eliminated
  • Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership program for low-income college students, cut by $64 million and eliminated
  • Byrd Scholarships for graduate students, cut by $40.3 million and eliminated

The modest increase proposed for Title I, $406 million, does not even keep pace with inflation. Meanwhile, the president is proposing to increase funding for the scandal-ridden Reading First program by $607 million, thus restoring previous cuts made by Congress.

The proposed budget flies in the face of a recent federal appeals court ruling, on the eve of NCLB's sixth anniversary, that Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is violating the Spending Clause of the Constitution by requiring states and school districts to spend their own money to comply with the law. For 2009, spending on NCLB would increase by one half of 1 percent. However, that increase includes a $300 million school voucher scheme called "Pell Grants for Kids." Take away the school vouchers and the numbers look even grimmer: the president actually proposes cutting NCLB spending by about $175 million.

The budget is $14.7 billion short of the amount promised in NCLB. That is on top of NCLB's previous cumulative spending gap of $70.9 billion.

The cuts are just the latest in a string of attacks on education funding by the administration. Two years ago, the president proposed the biggest cuts in the history of the Education Department. Just last November, he vetoed the FY 08 education funding bill, which resulted in NCLB programs losing more than $650 million.

"The president has no right to gut critical school programs in order to pay for his bureaucratic school voucher scheme," Weaver said. "Lawmakers must be prepared to reject this proposed budget, and give schools the basic resources they need to get the job done."

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Contact: Will Potter   (202) 822-7823