Budgeting for the Future of Children

The Politics and Process Behind the Federal Budget for Low-Income Children and Schools

Funding is always a central issue in education policy debates, and education funding is often a bone of contention in federal budget and appropriations battles. Yet many of the people who are most affected by federal education budget decisions are unaware of how those decisions are made or where the money goes. On June 12 the New America Foundation launched the Federal Education Budget Project to lift the veil from the federal education budget process and provide policymakers, journalists, educators, and the general public new data and analysis on education funding issues. An MP3 audio recording can be downloaded below, while video is available at right.

New America’s Federal Education Budget Project is an independent, authoritative source of easily accessible information on the size, distribution, effectiveness, and efficiency of federal education funding. FEBP resources include:

  • Background and funding information for all federally funded K-12 and higher education programs, including No Child Left Behind Act programs, the Individuals with Disabilities Act, National School Lunch Program, and financial aid for college students;
  • Funding, demographic, and achievement data for every states and school district in the country;
  • Color-coded maps that show state rankings based on per-pupil expenditures, poverty, school finance equity, and achievement in fourth- and eighth grades; and
  • The EdMoneyWatch.org blog, featuring timely analysis, commentary, and reporting on education funding issues.

New America’s Michael Dannenberg, gave a brief overview of these resources at the June 12 event, which also featured a panel discussion with leading experts on federal education funding. David Rowe, Director of the Education Division at the Office of Management, described how his office helps formulate the administration’s policy goals and budget frameworks that are reflected in the president’s budget request each February. Ellen Murray, Staff Director of the U. S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations, described the complicated and often contentious process of shepherding the budget through Congress. Tom Skelly, Director of the Budget Service at the Department of Education, spoke of the special budget challenges that arise during transition years, and drew historical lessons for how education funding might fare in the first year of a new administration.

Finally, Bob Greenstein, Director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, placed the education budget in the larger context of annual federal spending. Specifically, he noted that education spending has been declining relative to defense funding, particularly defense funding unrelated to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The panelists agreed that there are many challenges ahead on the road towards sustained and effective funding for the nation’s schools.

About the Federal Education Budget Project and EdBudgetProject.Org The Federal Education Budget Project is supported by generous grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and other charitable foundations. Posted now on Ed Budget Project.Org are the first fiscal year 2008 federal funding estimates for every school district in the nation. For further information about the Federal Education Budget Project, please visit: www.EdBudgetProject.Org.

-Christina Satkowski, Research Associate for the Education Policy Program


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Featured Speakers

  • David Rowe
    Director, Education Division
    Office of Management and Budget
  • Bob Greenstein
    Founder and President
    Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Ellen Murray
    Staff Director
    U. S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations
  • Tom Skelly
    Director, Budget Service
    United States Department of Education
  • Michael Dannenberg
    Director, Education Policy Program
    New America Foundation