Trump Budget Seeks to Slash Education Funds

Budgets are a statement of priorities. And, from the budget he sent to Congress last week, President Trump’s priorities are a big boost in military spending, a wall, deep cuts in domestic programs and years of trillion-dollar deficits. Public education clearly is not a priority.

In fact, President Trump calls on Congress to cut the Department of Education’s budget by a whopping 10 percent, or $8.5 billion, for the next fiscal year. (That’s roughly the same amount as the $8.6 billion he is requesting to build a border wall.) He’d eliminate 29 education programs.

An important program the Trump administration would wipe out completely is the $2.1 billion grant program (Title II-A) that supports professional development for educators. Another one targeted for elimination is the $1.2 billion program (Title IV-A) that funds safe and healthy schools, well-rounded academic programs and the effective use of technology. And the blueprint cuts funding for after-school activities, and the grant program that supports school safety initiatives and mental health services.

While public education takes a big hit, Secretary Betsy DeVos’ school choice agenda gets a big boost. Funding for charter schools would rise. The budget also envisions creating a new program to encourage donations to private school scholarship funds, essentially a backdoor voucher scheme to divert public dollars to private schools.

Even as the popular Title II-A professional development program would disappear, the budget includes $200 million for a new professional development voucher program through which teachers could get individual stipends. And the administration would spend $200 million for school safety “technical assistance to help states and school districts develop school emergency plans, offer counseling, and implement evidence-based practices for improving behavioral outcomes.”

But as alarming as the proposed education cuts are, Congress is unlikely to approve them. President Trump proposed similar deep cuts in his previous two budgets, only to see them ignored on Capitol Hill. And that was when his own party controlled Congress. Now, with Democrats controlling the House, Congress is even less likely to acquiesce to the president’s call to provide less for public schools and more for private schools. Tell Congress to stop the cuts.