February 2, 2010
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers
On President Obama’s Education Budget Proposal
President Obama yesterday released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2011.
WASHINGTON—President Obama’s budget proposal reflects his commitment to improving our schools, even in these difficult economic times. The president’s proposal for increased education funding clearly shows he understands the connection between a strong economy and the strength of our public schools.
Budget priorities are not just about funding; they also map out new policy directions. We are pleased that the budget proposal seeks to reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in ways the AFT has championed. These changes include replacing No Child Left Behind’s accountability system with one that takes into account student growth and school progress. Also, the push for states to adopt stronger standards will help teachers define what students need to know to succeed in our knowledge economy. Similarly, the president’s proposals to make college more accessible and affordable, particularly by increasing the maximum amount for Pell Grants, will prepare a generation of students for work and life.
While there is much to applaud in the budget, we are concerned that virtually all of the proposed increase is for competitive grants, while Title I—the lifeblood for our most disadvantaged children—is flat-funded. Students with the most needs should not have to rely on how well adults compete for dollars.
We welcome the significant investment in a revised ESEA, and look forward to working with Secretary Duncan and Congress to ensure that any new proposal reflects our members’ experience in the classroom and creates more opportunities for children.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.