Aspects of educational funding on the federal and state levels

The President’s FY 2013 Budget Request for The U.S. Department of Education was full of hope, promise, and higher expectations than ever before! Funding on all levels of the education system rests primarily with the state and local authorities. However, the federal government has always played a role in the development and maintenance of the educational funding infrastructure. According to the United States Department of Education’s website, $1.15 trillion is being spent nationwide on education at all levels for school year 2011-2012. A vast of the majority of this funding was supported through local, state, private, and other none federal sources, in amounts roughly equaling 90% of all total monies spent on education. The remaining 10% was supported by the federal government. With the remaining percentage of this balance coming from federal dollars, the federal government thus plays a small yet supportive role in the funding of education in America.

As report from this web page states, a wide range of management improvements have helped limit administrative costs for the department to approximately 2 percent of the U.S. Department of Education's discretionary budget, and only about 1 percent of all grants and loans made by the department. This means that, in essence, the U.S. Department of Education delivers about 99 cents on the dollar in education assistance to states, school districts, post-secondary institutions, and students. Thus, ensuring that as much as possible of every dollar used by the department reaches every individual functioning within the education infrastructure of the American society, is of importance to the department.

How does the U.S. Department of Education serve America’s students? In fulfilling its purposes as declared by congress in Public Law 96-88, the department engages in four major types of activities. The department of education establishes policies relating to federal financial aid for education, administers distribution of those funds, and monitors their use. Federal funds for education are distributed using the following methods; a set formula, competition, and financial need determination.

The department's elementary and secondary programs annually serve nearly 14,000 school districts and some 56 million students attending roughly 99,000 public schools and 34,000 private schools across the nation. Department programs also provide grant, loan, and work-study assistance to more than 15 million post-secondary students. Henceforth, the department makes over $120 billion in new loans annually.

Secondly, the department of education collects data and oversees research on America’s schools and disseminates this information to congress, educators, and the general public for efforts towards improving infrastructure and maintaining institutional effectiveness. A much sought after and needed endeavor, informing the citizens and public of what is the state of the country’s education system is vital for eliciting the much needed support for continuing and sustaining effective reform efforts. Conversely, the department of education incorporates its third major activity and responsibility in its agenda, and that is by identifying the major issues and problems in education, and focusing national attention on them. Hence, the department makes recommendations for education reform as a critical area of attention.

Lastly, the department of education enforces federal statutes prohibiting discrimination in programs and activities receiving federal funds, and ensures equal access to education for every individual. These laws extend to all state education agencies, elementary and secondary school systems, colleges and universities, vocational schools, proprietary schools, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, libraries and museums, and other entities that receive U.S. Department of Education funds. One of the many areas where the department of education is supporting none discriminatory practices, is through its sustain partnership with GLSEN, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network.

There are a range of issues that the federal government supports as it attempts to maintain the viability of the American educational system. In a press release by the U.S. Department of Education, was described the 2013 FY (Fiscal Year) budget focused on continued investments to strengthen the workforce and build the country’s economy. Areas of focus were continued proven reform efforts, aligning job training programs with workforce demands, raising up and improving the teaching profession, and increasing college affordability and quality.

Continued proven reform efforts were dedicated towards continued focus on closing achievement gaps and increasing student achievement, raising graduation rates, and increasing teacher and school leader effectiveness. This was aided through continued attention for the Race to the Top program and support for the Advanced Research Projects Agency, which concentrates on incorporating breakthrough technologies and technological advances in education. Not to leave out the effects of social conditions, and social economic statuses on education attainment, progress, and career success, Promise Neighborhoods program received additional funding for FY 2013 to help aid in its continued combat in those areas. The U.S. Department of Education’s Secretary Arne Duncan had something to say about the department’s focused agenda, “These investments are absolutely critical, not just for our nation’s students, teachers and schools, but for our country’s economy,” Duncan said. “Through these programs, we can help drive reform that will ultimately strengthen the workforce and create more job opportunities – especially in well-paying, high-demand fields.”

Aligning job training programs with workforce demands was yet another focus of the department’s FY 2013 budget. The Community College To Career Fund, and Career and Technical Education programs were supported with $9.1 billion total towards those programs. In efforts to raising up and bringing more professional esteem to the education profession, $55 billion were administered to the states to help with and better prepare, support, and compensate teachers. With the high attrition rates the education profession boasts, there is a need to spearhead reform efforts to reward effectiveness and performance. Teachers and school leaders will need to be funded and supported to help better prepare them, these hardworking educators and professionals, for their future careers.

Increasing college affordability and quality has been a topic discussed across many sectors of society. With a need to boosts the welfare of citizens, and well as, the economic sustainability of the country, Race to the Top: College Affordability and Completion, the federal government’s Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and the Perkins Loan were invested upon for the fiscal year 2013. The Department also proposed $55 million for a first in the world competition to drive innovation among post-secondary institutions, including minority-serving institutions, and help them scale up practices that work to increase college completion. Also, the federal government was looking to make the American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent. The AOTC provide taxpayers up to $10,000 over four years to cover expenses like tuition, fees, and textbook costs.

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