In late May, President Donald Trump announced his budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. In addition to cuts to medical and science research, the arts, and services for the poor, elderly, and disabled, Trump’s budget would also slash $10.6 billion from education initiatives. Under this budget, the federal department of education would see a whopping 13.5 percent cut in funding.
Cuts to public education
The proposal will touch nearly every aspect of public education from Kindergarten to higher education. Here are a few programs that will be impacted:
Class sizes and Teacher Training
($2.3 billion cut):
Cuts a program designed to help with teacher training and class-size reduction called the Supporting Effective Instruction State grants.
After school programs ($1.2 billion cut):
Cuts the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, which provides after school activities to nearly 2 million children, many of them low-income.
Student loans ($1 billion cut next fiscal year):
Ends the public loan forgiveness program, which is designed to those who go into public service, such as teachers.
Special Ed ($4 billion in reimbursements cut next year):
Cuts billions from Medicaid, which would impact special education services such physical therapists, vision screening, and speech therapy.
Funneling money to private schools
To make matters worse, this budget fulfills Betsy DeVos’ anti-public education vision of funneling millions of taxpayer dollars into unaccountable private schools. Despite mounting evidence showing how these voucher schemes hurt students, Trump and DeVos are doubling down on these failed programs. Here is what they would do:
- The proposal creates a $250 million voucher program which would use public dollars to pay for private school tuition.
- Allocates an additional $167 million to charter schools.
Although the President's budget is simply a proposal, it gives us a clear vision of the new Administration's priorities. This budget would be a historic disinvestment in public education at all levels. Ultimately, students would bear the burden of these cuts — particularly those who are most vulnerable
Public schools with significant numbers of low-income students would suffer the most from this budget. Under Trump’s budget, $1 billion more would be dedicated to a grant program that lures low-income students away from neighborhood schools and into private schools, taking federal dollars with them. The move is controversial because, in practice, it will redistribute funds from poorer districts to wealthier districts.
The concept of portability — or the “backpack of cash” as it’s often called — would result in increased cuts to funding based on declining enrollment for community public schools, something our students cannot afford.
A mission to disrupt public ed
The education cuts alone are dramatic, but the real danger is seen by looking at the bigger picture. Under the direction of Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, the Trump Administration is looking to remake our education system by moving money from public schools into private schools that operate under a different standard.
This is in uncharted territory. Since the early 20th century, public education has been a value shared by Administrations of both parties. This is no longer the case. If even parts of this budget were to be enacted, the effect on our most vulnerable students would be devastating.
It’s up to us, as Oregonians, to ensure our students have the resources they need to succeed. The vast majority of education funding and policy is decided at the state level. In the Trump era, educators must be willing to defend their students and public education. We must let our state and federal lawmakers know where we stand.
It couldn’t be clearer: DeVos’ goal is to slash funding for public schools, using voucher schemes to funnel taxpayer dollars to unaccountable private schools. A well-resourced public school in every neighborhood is our best bet for setting every student up for success. Email Devos and tell her to focus on investing in public schools: educationvotes.nea.org/emaildevos.
Contact your federal lawmakers and tell them to reject Trump-DeVos cuts to public education.
Senator Ron Wyden
Senator Jeff Merkely
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici
Congressman Greg Walden
Congressman Earl Blumenauer
Congressman Peter DeFazio
Congressman Kurt Schrader