President Trump is planning to cut funding to the Department of Education by 13 percent – taking that department’s outlay down to the level it was ten years ago. Public school supporters, i.e., teachers, administrators and parents are outraged. But the target for their anger should not be just the extent of the cuts but also how the cuts are being pitched to the public.
Trump’s Department of Education budget includes a $168 million increase for charter schools, $250 million for a new school choice program focused on private schools (vouchers), and a $1 billion increase for parents to send their kids to private schools at taxpayer expense. This last budget item is without proper guidelines as mostly well-to-do families take advantage of this tax assistance.
Excerpt from The Big Lie Behind Trump’s Education Budget,
March 28, 2017,by Jeff Bryant
The message being spun out of Trump’s education budget is that it takes money away from those awful “adult interests” – like, you know, teachers to actually teach the students and buildings so students have somewhere to go after school to play sports, get tutored, or engage in music and art projects – in order to steer money to “the kids” who will get a meager sum of money to search for learning opportunities in an education system that is increasingly bereft of teachers and buildings.
Even competent education reporters are falling for this spin, writing that education policy is experiencing a “sea change in focus from fixing the failing schools to helping the students in the failing schools.”
However, there’s evidence that federally funded efforts like afterschool programs and class size reduction tend to lead to better academic results for low-income children, while the case for using school choice programs to address the education needs of poor kids is pretty weak.
Direct Harm To Teachers And Students
In the meantime, the negative, direct impact of Trump’s proposed budget cuts on students, especially those living in low-income communities, will be all too real.
In California, Trump’s proposed cuts to federal grants to hire and support more teachers would short the state $252 million at a time when the state is experiencing severe shortages in teachers.
Trump’s proposed cuts to afterschool programs in New Jersey would threaten the existence of these programs in 50 cites in some of the state’s most economically disadvantaged communities including Newark, Trenton, Paterson, and Union City.
The toll of Trump’s budget cuts on schools in South Florida would amount to $25 million in Broward County and $40 million in Miami-Dade. A program for teacher training would likely be eliminated, and afterschool programs in low-income communities could go away.
Politico interviewed state education leaders to learn the potential impact of Trump’s education budget and found concern across the political spectrum. Republican Oklahoma Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said cuts to federal grants for hiring and supporting teachers come at a time when the state is struggling to fill hundreds of teacher vacancies. And Massachusetts Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester worries about the loss of more than $15 million for afterschool programs.
Excerpt from Bloomberg, “Trump Seeks Research, Education Cuts to Offset Defense Boost” by Jennifer Epstein, Toluse Olorunnipa, and Erik Wasson, March 28, 2017
President Donald Trump asked Congress to slash nearly $18 billion from medical research, education and other programs for the remainder of the current fiscal year to finance construction of a border wall and build up the military.
The recommended cuts, which are likely to be rejected by Congress, would partially offset a $30 billion increase Trump has requested for defense and border security. The cuts were detailed in a list the White House budget office sent to the House and Senate Appropriations committees on Friday.
A source familiar with the proposal provided the document to Bloomberg. It was reported earlier by Politico.