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Education budget has universal preschool

April 10, 2013 at 2:46 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday proposed a 2014 budget for the Education Department he said would ensure 4-year-olds access to high-quality preschool.

The budget provides $71.2 billion in funding to the department, a 4.6 percent increase over the 2012 enacted level.

"The funding builds on the significant gains made through major K-12 reform programs and supports new efforts to help reach the president's 2020 college completion goal," the budget document said.

When Obama was introducing his budget, he said funding for universal preschool would be underwritten by a new tax on cigarettes. The funds would be available through states via grants.

As part of Obama's pledge to reduce gun violence, the Education Department budget provides $112 million to help schools create safer and more nurturing climates.

"The president's plan to reduce gun violence and increase school safety requires that we invest not only in preparing our schools for emergencies, but also in creating safe and nurturing climates to prevent future tragedies" such as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six staffers were killed.

The budget provides $659 million for School Turnaround Grants to help America's persistently lowest-performing schools improve -- including $125 million for a new grant program that would allow school districts to implement what the budget calls effective and sustainable school reform.

The budget calls for investing $200 million in Promise Neighborhoods, an initiative supporting high-need communities that combines cradle-to-career services for children and families.

A new program to strengthen college- and career-readiness would get $300 million. The program would focus on providing high school students with relevant learning experiences and rewarding schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers to support instruction and to help develop the skills students need to be prepared for jobs now and in the future.

Mirroring the preschool and K-12 Race to the Top program, the Education Department budget provides $1 billion for competitive Race to the Top grants to states committing to comprehensive changes in their higher education policies and practices, while doing more to contain their tuition so post-secondary education is more affordable.

The budget would improve services for workers and job-seekers "by revisiting the structure of the federal job-training system, including through the creation of a Universal Displaced Worker program, among other things.

It would provide $8 billion for a Community College to Career Fund to support state-community college partnerships with businesses and other stakeholders.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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