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February 3, 2010

the budget supports broadening education

The president's budget proposal includes increased support for education outside of reading, math, and science. We and others have documented a narrowing of the US curriculum, especially in elementary schools. We found that the reason for the narrowing trend was not No Child Left Behind. But the decline of civics, history, art, and foreign languages is still a problem that deserves a federal response.

The Administration proposes a new funding area called "Teaching and Learning for a Well Rounded Education," with $265 million in appropriations. They propose moving civic education out of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools (whose main focus is safety and good behavior--a deadly heading under which to place active citizenship and democracy). The $265 million appropriation is roughly on par with the administration's request for science, technology, engineering, and math.

(By the way, I support the so-called STEM subjects, and we're not in a competition to get the most money. I only make the comparison to demonstrate that the president wants real money for the topics that make kids "well-rounded.")

If this plan goes forward, there will be struggles over how to allocate the money among fields such as history, art, languages, and civics; whether to fund states, local education agencies, and/or nonprofits (or for-profit firms); and what to do with the various special programs that were historically funded to support specific topics, such as American history and civics. Those are tough calls, but there is significant promise in the president's proposal.

February 3, 2010 1:35 PM | category: education policy | Comments



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