Late last night, Congress filed the conference report for the fiscal year 2012 omnibus bill which would provide appropriations funding for all federal agencies including education. The most recent version is currently available on the House Appropriations Committee’s website. Congress will vote on the bill today, as temporary fiscal year 2012 funding expires.
Though the comparable spending amount for the Department of Education will not be illuminated until the Department releases its congressional action budget table, the legislative text and joint statement provide many of the details. On the whole, it looks like the Senate and the Obama administration got much of what they asked for.
First, both Title I and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funding will receive slight increases in support over 2011 levels. Though the Senate had previously proposed level funding both programs, the House proposed significant increases.
School Improvement Grants, a favored program of the Obama administration, will be level funded at $535 million, somewhat of a surprise given that the House wanted to defund the program entirely.
In another surprise, both Race to the Top and the Investing in Innovation fund will receive continued funding in 2012 of $550 million and $150 million, respectively. Though these amounts are below the Senate’s proposed levels, it appears that the administration spent significant political capital on ensuring both programs will persist. Interestingly, the bill also includes language that would expand Race to the Top to local education agencies in addition to states.
The Senate also won a victory over the Striving Readers program, which was defunded in 2011. The 2012 omnibus would provide the program with $160 million to support local literacy development programs.
One program that did take a big hit, however, is the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF). The omnibus bill would fund the program at $300 million, $99 million below 2011 levels. Additionally, the bill also specifies that the competitive grant program must go to support teacher compensation systems that include both measures of student gains and teacher evaluations. Though the Senate did ask for $300 million for TIF, its version of the bill also broadened the scope of the program to include other interventions besides performance-based compensation systems because “rigorous research released over the past year” shows that these systems “had no effect on increasing student achievement.”
The biggest news in the 2012 omnibus, however, involves funding for the Pell Grant program, which includes both eligibility changes and additional funds from a temporary repeal of a portion of the interest-free benefit for subsidized student loans. To learn more about these changes to the Pell Grant program, check out this Ed Money Watch post.
The table below shows some of the details we already know for 2012 education funding.