Diann Woodard Responds to President Barack Obama’s FY2015 Budget Request

President Barack Obama officially released his budget request for Fiscal Year 2015. In response, AFSA President Diann Woodard released the following statement:

“Overall, the president’’s budget request for FY15 represents a step in the right direction, and provides a blueprint to move our country forward by investing in education and jobs, raising the minimum wage, closing tax loopholes, supporting workers, and providing access to universal pre-kindergarten.

“While the president’’s $35 million request for the School Leadership Program surpasses last year’s enacted levels, it remains disappointingly below his request of $98 million in FY14. Research shows that effective school leadership is second only to instruction in raising student achievement.  With the School Leadership program serving as the only federal initiative directly addressing the difficulty of attracting and retaining quality school leaders in high-need districts, funding for this program is crucial.

“We support the president’’s efforts to help educators use technology in schools through the proposed ConnectEDucators program. The $175 million in professional development funds for teachers and leaders will help improve student outcomes in those areas. We strongly encourage principal involvement in the design and implementation of this professional development in states and school districts.

“We also recognize the president’’s ongoing commitment to closing achievement gaps, and for proposing to close opportunity and resource gaps through investments in early learning and a new Race to the Top Equity and Opportunity program. However, we remain concerned with the continued focus on competitive grant programs, and urge caution in the use of any approach that inherently creates winners and losers. In order to truly address inequality and close achievement gaps, all children must have the opportunity to succeed.

“While there is much for AFSA members to like and admire in this budget, we must register our continuing concern with the current budget caps as they force no or limited growth in key educational equity investments — Title I (flat-funded), 21st Century Community Learning Centers (flat-funded), and IDEA Part B ($100 million increase) – and draconian cuts in others – Title II Part A-Teacher Quality ($350 million cut). We can and must do a better job of protecting these vital investments in our children’’s and our nation’’s future. Down the road, we should be mindful of the very negative repercussions on education of setting painfully low budget caps.”

“Finally we applaud the president for not including a ‘Chained Consumer Price Index’ for calculating Social Security benefits in his FY 2015 Budget Request. Social Security does not contribute to the deficit and is a lifeline for millions of our nation’’s retired workers. To ensure all workers are able to receive the benefits they have earned and to retire with dignity, strengthening social security must be a priority.””