Fall Spotlight on Education

On March 13, 2010 the Obama Administration released its blueprint for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), known widely now by its most recent reincarnation, the Bush Administration's “No Child Left Behind Act” (NCLB). ESEA mandates that an increased proportion of the education budget be allocated towards programs first introduced through the Recovery Act, most notably the Race to the Top program and the Investing in Innovation Fund.

The current debate surrounding ESEA – in part – rests on the question of whether or not the act is a large enough departure from its 2001 predecessor, NCLB. Criticized as creating disincentives for the well-rounded education of students, NCLB resulted in many schools narrowing their curriculum in order to pass annual, national assessments on mathematics and reading.


What people are saying about ESEA



  • Funding in some states broadens disciplines not annually tested (the arts, science and technology, history, foreign language). (Economic Policy Institute, 2010)

  • Introduction of competitive grants to stimulate new, more effective methods of teaching and pinpoint successful education practices. (Center for American Progress, 2010)



  • Increases the gap between 'good' schools and 'bad' schools by forcing states to compete for funding by way of competitive grants (ie. Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation Fund). (National Education Association, 2010)

  • Inappropriate in the context of the current economic crisis. Forcing schools to rely on competitive grants for funding only further exacerbates the crisis in education already occurring on the state level as a result of decreased state tax revenues, and the impending end of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds in fiscal year 2011. (Economic Policy Institute, 2010)


The numbers behind education: these and many more available from NPP's publications and tools

  • In 2009, 2 cents of your federal income tax dollar was spent on education. Only international affairs and transportation received a smaller portion of the same dollar.

  • Fewer students today are completing traditional four-year high school programs than in 2001. Of these students, People of Color – and more specifically, Latinos – constitute the majority of those exiting traditional four-year programs early.

  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allowed states to avoid laying off over a third of a million teachers and school employees. These funds for education end in FY2011. In tandem with continuing declines in state tax revenues, local secondary and primary schools face challenging decisions ahead. Likewise, state community colleges and universities face declining federal and state contributions ultimately placing higher costs on students.


How NPP can help you learn more about education


Tax Day 2010

Track how the federal government spent your 2009 federal income-tax dollar on education.


NPP Database

This one-of-a-kind database contains state and local-level data on federal spending correlated with ten broad issue areas including education. Utilize it to see how the federal government allocated expenditures in your state, county or school district.


The President's Budget: Fiscal Year 2011

This publication reviews Presidential budget requests spanning fiscal years 2008 to 2012 which include requested spending authorities from the final Bush budget to the Obama administration's projected 2012 budget. See the breakdown of education expenditures over the five year span.


More Food for Thought


The Center for American Progress

The Center for American Progress is a liberal public policy think tank addressing 21stcentury challenges such as energy, national security, economic growth and opportunity, immigration, education, and health care. http://www.americanprogress.org


The Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank concerned with formulating and promoting public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. http://www.heritage.org/issues/education


The Economic Policy Institute

The Economic Policy Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan Washington based think tank concerned with broadening the discussion of economic policy to include the low and middle-class. http://www.epi.org/issues/education/


National Education Association

The National Education Association works to advance the cause of public education. Boasting over 3.2 million members, it is the largest labor union in the country consisting of a wide range of educators. http://www.nea.org/home/index.html