Federal Education Budget Battles of 2011

Before Congress gets to the battle over education funding for the next fiscal year starting in October, federal lawmakers still have to finish fighting over the budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year 2011. A bill drafted by the new Republican House majority would cut back education spending far below current levels, chopping nearly $5 billion. The targets include:

–a cut of nearly $700 million from Title I aid for schools serving the economically disadvantaged;
–a cut of $557 million from IDEA funding for special education, which already is funded well below promised levels of federal assistance;
–a cut of $1 billion from Head Start; and
–a cut of $845 from the maximum per-student Pell Grant of $5,550 for needy college students.

Amendments offered on the U.S. House floor may alter the mix of proposed cuts, but the overall amount to be cut is unlikely to change from the nearly $5 billion in the original proposal. That’s in the House. Over in the U.S. Senate, where the Democrats retain a majority, these deep cuts are said to be dead on arrival. If so, that sets up a stalemate between the House and Senate that may last a while, leaving school districts in Texas and nationwide in doubt about the level of federal help they can count on.