Can America improve its schools with less money?
They may have to try. President Donald Trump's proposed budget would cut the Education Department's $68 billion budget by $9 billion. Among the big losers: After-school programs and teacher training.
Gone is the $2.5 billion for Title II grants for professional development and the billion dollars for 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which underwrites after-school and extended learning efforts.
The president's budget proposal -- "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again" -- defends the cuts by saying there is no evidence the professional development grants and after-school programs make a difference.
The budget delivers on Trump's promise of increased school choice with an unprecedented $1.4 billion for vouchers and charter schools.
The budget proposal states:
Increases investments in public and private school choice by $1.4 billion compared to the 2017 annualized CR level, ramping up to an annual total of $20 billion, and an estimated $100 billion including matching State and local funds. This additional investment in 2018 includes a $168 million increase for charter schools, $250 million for a new private school choice program, and a $1 billion increase for Title I, dedicated to encouraging districts to adopt a system of student based budgeting and open enrollment that enables Federal, State, and local funding to follow the student to the public school of his or her choice.
"Today’s Budget Blueprint keeps with President Trump’s promise to focus the U.S. Department of Education on its mission to serve students,” said his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “The budget places power in the hands of parents and families to choose schools that are best for their children by investing an additional $1.4 billion in school choice programs.”
Here is a sample of reactions to the budget:
Deb Delisle, ASCD Executive Director and CEO: (ASCD is formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)
The White House’s budget proposal makes it clear that this administration’s support for educators and for enhancing the lives of all children is nothing more than lip service. By slashing the U.S. Department of Education’s budget by $9 billion, including a complete elimination of the $2.25 billion that states and districts use to enhance educators’ skills and knowledge and reduce class size, the administration is demonstrating that our country’s educators and children are not a priority. The success of our country lies in the education we provide to future generations. This budget prevents us from positioning ourselves for a healthy and vibrant economy.
John Schilling, Chief Operating Officer of the American Federation for Children:
In the President’s FY 2018 budget proposal, there are some positive items for school choice advocates, including increasing investment in public and private school choice. While details remain to be seen, this is a good first step in the budget process to demonstrate the Administration intends to fulfill the President’s commitment to expand school choice in America. AFC believes Congress has a rare window of opportunity to facilitate a significant expansion of school choice in America. AFC supports a federal tax credit, which is the broadest and most immediate way to help disadvantaged children around the country access a school of their parents’ choice. AFC also supports re-purposing federal K-12 funds to directly empower recipients of these funds to choose the public or private school of their choice.
Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Congressman Cedric Richmond:
We’ve heard all of this talk from President Trump about African- Americans not having anything to lose under his Administration. The truth is that we have a lot to lose and his budget proposal is proof of that.
Although President Trump promised a ‘New Deal for Black America,’ his budget slashes the federal workforce and cripples domestic programs (e.g. federal student services TRIO programs, LIHEAP, grants for after school programs, Community Development Block Grants, and Community Services Block Grants), and we’re likely to see even more cuts in these areas if he gives tax breaks to the wealthy, as expected. All of this hurts the African-American community. In addition, despite his promise to support and strengthen HBCUs, President Trump proposes to give these schools the same amount of funding they received last year. This budget proposal is not a new deal for African-Americans. It’s a raw deal that robs the poor and the middle-class to pay the richest of the rich.
The Council of Chief State School Officers Executive Director Chris Minnich:
While we are still waiting to see details in the full budget proposal expected later this spring, state chiefs are deeply concerned that the President's proposed budget prioritizes specific new policies over serving all kids in our states. Federal funding is critical to supporting state education systems and making sure every child receives a high-quality education, no matter their family background or zip code. As a country, we must continue to invest in our public schools and provide adequate funding so every school has the necessary resources to meet the needs of every child. We look forward to working with Congress to ensure that the final budget reflects the priorities of state chiefs as they work to serve all children in their state.
National School Boards Association Executive Director & CEO Thomas J. Gentzel:
The Administration’s proposed $9 billion cut to the education budget is irresponsible, and it would put programs and needed support services provided by schools at risk if it is adopted by Congress. The proposal redirects hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools – often, school districts that rely most heavily on federal aid, forcing them to cut vital services or raise local property taxes.
NSBA remains steadfast in its commitment to ensure public funds remain in public schools. School budgets were hit very hard during the Great Recession, yet public schools fully supported their students and enhanced public education. Further cuts will put some children, particularly children from low income families, at risk of falling behind. This cut discards one of our nation’s core values – a commitment to offer all children an equitable and quality education regardless of their zip code.
Nine of every 10 students attend public schools so we must invest in public education if we want to enhance their lives and bolster U.S. competitiveness. Either we support public schools or we undermine them, the children that attend them and the nation. That is the choice before us.
Pauline Abernathy, executive vice president, Institute for College Access & Success:
With today's release of President Trump's FY2018 budget, both the Trump administration and House Republicans have now issued plans that would increase the cost of college for millions of Americans struggling to pay for education and training. Both plans take aim at America's neediest college students by proposing deep Pell Grant funding cuts. This is not the way to make America great.
The Trump administration's budget raids $3.9 billion from discretionary Pell Grant funding in fiscal year 2018. It fails to seize the opportunity to use existing program funds to restore access to grants year round and increase the maximum grant, which covers the lowest share of the cost of attending a four-year public college in over 40 years. Furthermore, raiding these funds will increase pressure to cut Pell Grant amounts and eligibility for the over 7.5 million low- and moderate-income students who rely on Pell Grants each year.
The administration's budget further harms low-income, minority, and first-generation college students by eliminating the campus-based grant program for needy students (SEOG), significantly cutting the already underfunded federal work study program, and reducing funds for the TRIO and GEAR UP college access programs.
Rather than pushing back and committing to making college more affordable, House Republicans have already made clear their plan to eliminate $65 billion in mandatory Pell Grant funding, which would have a devastating impact on students and our workforce. Mandatory funding currently pays for $1,060 of the current maximum Pell Grant (almost one fifth of the grant). Without the $5.9 billion in mandatory Pell Grant funding in FY 2018, either millions of students will see their grants slashed or more than one million students will be denied grants altogether.
As college costs and student debt continue to rise, the President and Congress should be making college more affordable, not less, especially for those who have been left behind by today's economy. Slashing the federal government's most effective investment in higher education will leave millions of Americans, and our country, further behind.
Association of American Medical Colleges President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch:
The unprecedented budget cuts proposed by President Trump for FY 2018 would cripple the nation’s ability to support and deliver the important biomedical research that provides hope to all, including the millions of Americans affected by life-threatening and chronic diseases. Gutting funding for NIH, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and other federal agencies would have a devastating effect on America’s health security.
Slashing the NIH budget by nearly 20 percent would revert the agency’s budget to below FY 2003 funding levels, even without accounting for inflation, and would irreparably harm the ability of the nation’s scientists to develop cures and treatments for all Americans. This is in stark contrast to the strong bipartisan support NIH has received in Congress.
Likewise, eliminating more than $400 million in health professions and nursing training programs would jeopardize efforts to foster a diverse workforce and to enhance culturally competent care for the most vulnerable patients. HRSA’s workforce development and community-based training programs have demonstrated effectiveness in recruiting underrepresented and disadvantaged students and improving the distribution of health care professionals.
Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools Executive Director Keron Blair: (The alliance is coalition of 10 national organizations in support of public education and public schools, particularly those serving communities of color.)
Just two months ago, President Trump declared education to be ‘the civil rights issue of our time.’ Sadly, his budget proposal demonstrates his antipathy toward that declaration. This budget hurts black and brown children and children living in poverty; destabilizes neighborhood public schools and invests instead in the failed strategies of unregulated charter schools and vouchers. It confirms that President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are on the same page—promoting choice for some over quality for all students. By cutting over $9 billion from education funding, the president’s budget proposal begins to dismantle the federal role in ensuring equity in public schools. Instead of investing in our nation’s public schools to provide quality to all children, this budget proposes millions of dollars towards new choice programs that will send public dollars to private schools. It eliminates the 21st Century Learning Centers Program which supports proven before-and after-care programs for low-income students and funds the development of Sustainable Community Schools—public schools that transform the prospects for low-income children. Make no mistake: President Trump and Betsy DeVos plan will devastate public schools in black and brown communities.
This budget would also increase funding for the Department of Education’s Charter School Program by 50 percent, despite the fact that two separate audits by the Office of Inspector General found millions of CSP dollars going to charter schools that never opened or are now closed.While some of this money might go to help a choosen few, a good chunk of it would go into the pockets of millionaires and billionaires who don’t care about kids, but see public education as a scheme to bring in profits.
The Trump/DeVos budget makes it clear that neither Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos care about black, brown or poor kids or poverty-stricken communities. We urge Congress to reject this budget on face.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:
This budget takes a meat cleaver to public education. These are the biggest cuts to the education budget we can recall—even during times of great fiscal stress. Only someone who doesn’t know what public schools do and what kids need would contemplate or countenance these kinds of cuts.
This budget also includes both backdoor and ‘front-door’ voucher programs that further the Trump administration’s ideological crusade against public education. The Title I ‘portability’ included is a backdoor voucher scheme that was expressly rejected in the recently enacted bipartisan federal education law.
These cuts, if enacted, will turn into real-life effects on kids. They do what we feared would happen when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was nominated: defund public schools with the aim of destabilizing and destroying them.
When DeVos was nominated, we warned that she would use her office to wage an ideological attack against public education, and this budget is the latest confirmation of her efforts to rob the future to push failed voucher strategies.
We are profoundly disappointed with the administration’s proposed budget framework. The fiscal year 2018 “skinny budget,” unveiled this morning, would raid the funds set aside by successive Congresses for Pell grants, eliminate or shortchange critical student aid programs, and drastically cut vital research investments, including a 20 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health.
At a time when higher education and research are more important to the nation’s future than ever before, this budget unwisely undermines both and weakens the objective of a stronger, greater America. We will work with Congress and the administration to make the compelling case that the targeted programs are in the national interest.