On December 8, 2010 the House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill that included FY 2011 funding for education programs and on December 14th the Senate Appropriations Committee released an education funding proposal that is now headed for approval by the full Senate. According to a summary of the Senate Committee’s proposal posted on the Committee’s website, the bill proposes education funding to “incentivize States and local communities to reform their … education systems.” Consistent with the House bill, the Senate Committee proposes funding for a third round of the Race to the Top competition in the amount of $550 million, considerably less than the $1.35 billion requested by President Obama’s administration. Neither bill extends the Race to the Top competition to local education agencies as was requested by the administration. Both bills include funding measures for the Pell Grant program in order to keep the maximum Pell grant at $5,550 to help low-income students attend college.
Overall, the appropriations bill passed by the House provides for education funding in FY 2011 at the same level as FY 2010 (not counting stimulus funds) with a few exceptions. By contrast, the Senate Appropriations Committee proposes increasing grants for the Title I and Special Education programs each by $290 million as compared to last year. The Head Start program would receive an increase in funding of $840 million, and the 21st Century Learning program would receive a boost of $135 million. The Senate Committee proposes to give $300 million to the Early Learning Challenge Fund to help states improve their pre-kindergarten programs. The Committee also proposes to extend the Investing in Innovation (i3) program into FY 2011 with an appropriation of $240 million.
If the full Senate approves the bill proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, the bill will need to be reconciled with the House bill before it can become final. If both the House and the Senate continue to agree on funding for a third round of Race to the Top competition, additional states and school districts may win financial resources to help them achieve their education reform goals.