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STEM Ed. Among Cuts Sought in Draft House Budget Plan

The $175 million Mathematics and Science Partnerships program at the U.S. Department of Education is among the casualties in a draft budget bill released today by the House Appropriations Committee.

Other curriculum-related programs targeted for elimination in the Republican plan for fiscal 2012, which begins Oct. 1, include:

• Arts in Education, $27 million;

• Foreign Language Assistance, $27 million;

• Teaching American History grants, $47 million;

• Excellence in Economic Education, $1.4 million; and

• Civic Education, $1.2 million.

In addition, it appears that the GOP plan would not restore aid for some federal literacy programs that saw their budgets eliminated in fiscal 2011, including the $175 million Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program. That program, however, would be funded, to the tune of $182 million, under a companion Senate bill approved this month on a party line vote by the Democratically controlled Senate Appropriations Committee.

The House draft is one in a series of budget bills that finance government agencies. It focuses on funding for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and other related agencies.

An analysis by the Committee for Education Funding, a Washington-based advocacy group, said that, overall, the draft House plan would reduce funding for the Education Department by $2.4 billion. Total discretionary spending would be about $69 billion, according to the House plan (though I should caution that comparisons of bottom-line funding are not always apples to apples in the House and Senate).

The House plan does propose increases in at least a few areas. For example, it would raise spending on the Title I program for disadvantaged students by $1 billion, to $15.46 billion. And it would provide the federal Rural Education program with $200 million, up from about $175 million in fiscal 2011.

The Republican measure does not provide funding for some top Obama administration priorities, rejecting the president's request of $900 million to continue the Race to the Top program and another $300 million for the Investing in Innovation Fund. It also does include any money for several new "effective teaching and learning" funds the president wants to create, including ones for literacy, STEM education, and a catch-all "well-rounded education." (For more on those proposals, see this blog post.)

"To protect critical programs and services that many Americans rely on—especially in this time of fiscal crisis—the bill takes decisive action to cut duplicative, inefficient, and wasteful spending to help get these agency budgets onto sustainable financial footing," House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said in a press release.

But the bill was sharply criticized by Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds education. She took aim at the bill on multiple fronts, including criticism of legislative "riders" on controversial issues that she said are outside the purview of the Appropriations Committee, as well as "a number of harmful and ill-advised cuts."

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