President Obama's FY 2011 budget proposal, released Feb. 1, includes a $400 billion investment in education—but it lacks any funding specifically dedicated to school libraries. Funding for individual programs, such as the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries grant and the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT ) program, has been consolidated, effectively eliminating the programs and denying many districts the funds they need.
The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries grant provided access to modern library materials to local education agencies with at least 20 percent of families living below the poverty line. The Bush administration had allocated over $19 million for the program between 2006 and 2009. Although minimal, the federal money was still available. The funds formerly apportioned to the grant program will now be condensed with others as part of a competitive program.
"We're basically disappointed," said Cassandra Barnett, president of the American Association of School Librarians (AAS L) and media specialist at Fayetteville High School in Arkansas. "This program was getting school libraries acknowledged again, and now we are not even recognized in the budget."
In response to President Obama's budget statement, the American Association of School Administrators responded with this statement: "AASA applauds the support for and investment in education in President Obama's 2011 budget proposal and the changes in No Child Left Behind that are assumed in the proposal. However, AASA is concerned with the decision to shift a significantly larger proportion of dollars into competitive grant program."
EETT is another federal program that did not receive recognition in the budget. "We are deeply concerned about the President's proposal to consolidate the EETT program, which would leave our nation with no dedicated federal education technology funding," said the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN ) in a statement.
Barnett remains optimistic, however, that educators will rally support from the House and Senate before the budget is finalized in September 2010.