ABC News’ Mary Bruce Reports:
Education Secretary Arne Duncan offered details this afternoon on Obama’s plan to increase education spending by six percent in the 2011 budget. “Given how tough the economy is now, having a six percent increase at this point I think is extraordinary and you’re not seeing that frankly happen any place else,” Duncan told reporters on a conference call this afternoon. “But this is not just about spending more, this is about spending wisely.”
As Jake Tapper reported, Obama will propose the increased spending in his State of the Union address tonight. The President will also call for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), a step towards overhauling the Bush administration’s “No Child Left Behind” passed in 2002.
“We are building bipartisan and grass-roots support for reauthorizing the federal education law to boost standards, promote a well-rounded education, foster competition, and give states and district as much flexibility as possible. As I often say, our role is to provide a common definition of success, not a prescription for success,” Duncan said.
The budget will call for a $3 billion increase in federal education spending, which includes the $1.3 billion announced last week for another round of the “Race To The Top” grant competition. An additional $1 billion in funding is on the table contingent on the reauthorization of ESEA, which Duncan hopes to see this year.
“It’s very unusual to have a budget that is contingent upon legislative action, but the President is so deeply committed to education and there are further reforms we hope to accelerate with this money,” Duncan said.
The budget will also include what the Secretary referred to as “a massive investment in college access.” The administration expects to provide aid to nearly 15 million students next year, roughly five out of every seven college students in the country. Details of the investment will be revealed next week, but a large portion will be included in the proposal to switch to a direct lending program which the administration believes will save $87 billion over 10 years.
Finally the budget will consolidate 38 K-12 programs down to 11 to “reduce red tape” and will eliminate entirely six programs that Duncan said duplicate others or are ineffective.
Education is often cited as an example where Republicans and the administration are working together. “This is one area where we share values and policy ideas. While there will always be some disagreements, there is much more that we have in common,” Duncan said.