Federal Budget Proposal Cuts Billions in Higher Education and K-12 School Programs

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The Department of Education would face some major downsizing under the Trump administration’s newly released budget proposal that seeks a $9 billion dollar (or 13.5 percent) reduction. The $59 billion-dollar budget eliminates teacher training grants, supplemental K-12 school programs, and higher education financial assistance while increasing funds for school-choice programs.

The plan would eliminate:

  • $2.4 billion from the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program, a teacher-training program that the administration claims is “poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact.”
  • $1.2 billion from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports before- and after-school programs as well as summer programs that the budget plan argues, “lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement.”
  • $732 million from the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program. These funds that provide college assistance to low-income students. The administration claims the cuts will “reduce complexity” in college funding.
  • The administration also claims it will be eliminating twenty other programs that “do not address national needs, duplicate other programs, or are more appropriately supported with State, local, or private funds, including Striving Readers, Teacher Quality Partnership, Impact Aid Support Payments for Federal Property, and International Education programs.” These cuts could do away with organizations like the U.S. Institute of Peace, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

Programs that would not be eliminated but would receive big cuts are:

  • The Federal TRIO and GEAR UP programs, which provide services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, like Upward Bound. These organizations will be cut by $192 million with more cuts possible in the future, “pending the completion of an upcoming rigorous evaluation,” reads the budget.
  • An undisclosed amount is said to be cut from federal work-study programs, that the Department claims is “poorly targeted.”

However, school choice programs will see $1.4 billion dollar increases, with:

  • $168 million dollars for charter school programs
  • $250 million for new private school-choice programs
  • $1 billion-dollar increase for Title I that the administration says will encourage “districts to adopt a system of student-based budgeting and open enrollment.”

The Office of Civil Rights, also part of the Department of Education, was not mentioned in the budget document—leaving many wondering about the future of that office.

This proposal is just the beginning of the budget approval process. The funds will have to be reviewed, revised and approved by both the senate and the house before going back to the president’s desk for final approval. This process can be lengthy and with all of the proposed cuts, not only to the education department but several other departments and programs—like the National Endowment for the Arts—there are bound to be fierce debates.

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