House and Senate education budgets differ wildly, reflecting party lines

The Senate's budget kept Biden's wishes in mind, expanding the maximum Pell Grant award and initiatives toward loan forgiveness and assisting minority students. 

Following Congress’ deal to flatten federal funding for education over the next two years to avert a debt default, President Joe Biden’s proposal for a $90 billion-strong Department of Education in fiscal year 24 (FY24) is now officially a pipedream with the release of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees’ budget bills.

The House proposed a $12.1 billion reduction in funding for Education compared to FY23, for a total of $67.4 billion. On the other hand, the Senate’s $79.6 billion budget remains relatively the same, falling more than $10 billion short of Biden’s proposal.

With a House dominated by Republicans and a slight Democratic majority in the Senate, both bills differed widely. The reduction or enhancement of specific components in Education funding clearly reflects party preferences.

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House budget bill

The House managed to decrease the budget by 15% due to its priority to cut programs it found “do not fulfill the core mission, tasks and functions of the Department.” Specifically, the House proposes eliminating the Office of Communication entirely and funding for teacher training programs.

Moreover, the House targeted organizations it found to “undermine the unity of our country,” suggesting the GOP-majority House’s recent opposition toward diversity, equity and inclusion influenced its decision-making process. For example, it proposed reducing the Office for Civil Rights budget by 25%.

Additionally, Title I grant funding for states with K12 schools with a high makeup of low-income students would see a substantial 80% drop, with the House claiming residual pandemic funding can offset the deficit.

The budget bill proposes to maintain funding for disability support, school safety and charter schools.

Senate budget bill

Capping funding at the same level as FY23 to adhere to Congress’ debt ceiling deal, the Senate’s budget kept Biden’s wishes in mind, building on mental health initiatives, assisting under-resourced schools and communities of color and fortifying the teacher workforce.

The Senate proposed to increase funding for a multitude of student and teacher support services. For example, the bill proposed increasing funding for Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants by $20 million to improve school conditions for student learning and upgrade technologies to boost student digital literacy. The Senate also prioritized K12-higher education pipelines through such initiatives as GearUP, a federal grant program that prepares students for post-secondary education and through their first year of college.

For teachers specifically, an additional $35 million will go toward addressing the teacher shortage through the IDEA Personal Preparation program as one example. The Senate bill also proposed advancing another $15 million toward teacher development programs via the Teacher Quality Partnership Program, as well as the Hawkins program to help cultivate a more diverse teacher workforce.

For mental health, the Senate proposed allocating $100 million toward qualified K12 professionals and counselors.

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a DA staff writer and Florida Gator alumnus. A graduate in journalism and communications, his beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene, and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador, and Brazil.

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