Obama Administration Issues Plan to Reform K-12 Education

On March 15, the White House released “A Blueprint for Reform,” which details the Administration’s plans for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). However, the plan provides little detail about the Administration’s plan to revamp federal funding for history education, specifically the future of Teaching American History grants.

President Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget request to Congress for the Department of Education proposed consolidating 38 existing K-12 education programs into 11 new programs. Under the Administration’s budget request, the Teaching American History grants would now be part of a new program called “Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education.”

The administration is proposing $265 million in funding for the new initiative. Funds would support competitive grants to States and “high-need school districts” to improve teaching and learning in the arts, foreign languages, civics and government, history, geography, economics and financial literacy. The $265 million in proposed spending reflects a 17 percent increase over the total funding in the current fiscal year’s budget for all of the programs that would be consolidated into the “Well Rounded Education” initiative.

Congress, of course, will determine not only how educational funds are allocated in the FY 11 budget, but ultimately the reauthorization of the ESEA. As we have seen with the health care reform debate, wholesale changes designed to replace the No Child Left Behind Act will likely take some time. In fact, the reauthorization may not occur until next year since Congress will have little taste for tackling another controversial issue such as education reform in an election year.