Obama budget puts $210 m. behind Harlem Children's Zone model
TAMPA -- The goal is to create a virtual conveyor belt that carries children in America's poorest communities from birth through college.
As reported in today's St. Petersburg Times, Sulphur Springs Elementary School and an alliance of community development agencies have already made significant progress in their bid to win a piece of the new federal Promise Neighborhoods grants. The effort is modeled on the Harlem Children's Zone, which made national headlines for its success in overcoming the poverty gap in New York City.
Now the federal government has put some real money behind the idea: $210 million.
That's how much the Obama Administration would spend to implement Promise Neighborhoods at up to 20 sites, according to the proposed budget released today. It previously announced $10 million in planning grants for the program, and is expected to release details on the application process soon.
Also included in the education portion of that budget plan is $1.35 billion in additional money for the Race to the Top stimulus competition, more money in the Pell Grants program for low-income college students, and $950 million in new grants for states or individual school districts that "recruit, prepare, retain, and reward effective teachers and principals." (Yes, that last one does look a lot like the Hillsborough County school district's $202 million reform effort with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, doesn't it?)
If Congress agrees, the Obama budget would reduce spending for some federal departments -- Commerce, Justice, Housing & Urban Development, and Agriculture -- but raise overall education spending by 6 percent. Stay tuned to the Gradebook for all the budget fireworks that are sure to follow.
-- Tom Marshall, Times Staff Writer