Earlier this year, the President released his “skinny budget” – an outline of his budget proposal for FY18.  Today, the full budget has been released and we’ve seen clearly just how devastating the Trump Administration’s vision for public education is.

Much of what we saw in the skinny budget remains the same and is disappointing for students with disabilities, their families, and advocates. The President has missed an opportunity to provide important supports and services to the students and educators most in need.

Direct cuts to critical programs

To begin, the Department of Health and Human Services would cut Medicaid funding by $800 billion. Medicaid provides important school-based health services to low-income students and to students with disabilities. Taking away funding for Medicaid means that schools must make up the difference, in turn causing ripple effects through the school and impacting all students.

The Department of Education would be cut by $9.2 billion (or by 13.6%). Education programs that would see decreases in funding for FY 18 include:

  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) state grant program, which provides funding for special education services for students with disabilities, would receive $113 million dollars less in FY 2018 than it is currently receiving in FY17;
  • The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which would see a decrease of $1.7 million; and
  • Career and technical education, which would see a decrease of $168 million (a cut of 15%); and

On top of that, more than 22 programs would be eliminated entirely.  This includes:

  • Elimination of a block grant under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – known as Title IV Part A – which offers states funds to ensure safe and supportive learning environments and access to well-rounded education, including access to guidance counselors, science and the arts curriculum, physical education, and technology;
  • Elimination of 21stCentury Community Learning Centers – another program under Title IV of ESSA – a $1.2 billion program that supports before- and after-school and enrichment programs;
  • Elimination of the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program – known as Title II Part A under ESSA – a $2.1 billion program that provides professional development to support teachers and seeks to reduce class sizes; and
  • Elimination of the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program (more recently renamed Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation, or LEARN) under Title II of ESSA, which provides funds to ensure that students receive high quality literacy instruction from early childhood through high school; and
  • Elimination of the Teacher Quality Partnership grants program under Title II of the Higher Education Act, which provides funds to strengthen teacher preparation programs for high-need schools and in high-need subject areas, including special education.

Diverting funds to undermine public education

After proposing numerous cuts to programs that are critical to the success of public school students, the President has also proposed taking $1 billion from Title I – a program intended to serve the neediest students and low-income communities – and allow the funds to be used for school choice. This plan would essentially give a financial boost to schools that are not in need of additional resources, while denying low-income schools and students the very support and resources they need and are entitled to.

Trump’s plan also invests $250 million in a program that will support research on vouchers and expand the use of vouchers for private and religious schools – an education scheme that systematically denies students with disabilities of their educational rights and offers choice to only those families that can afford to pay the difference between the voucher amount and the cost of a private school.

A missed opportunity to spur innovation & student success

The President’s budget does not only decimate funding for critical programs, but it stifles innovation and limits opportunities for student success.  It fails to invest in the programs the will build a skilled educator workforce and safe, supportive learning environments for students. It falls short on the government’s promise to fund IDEA and ensure equal educational opportunities for students with disabilities.

We can and must do more for the 1 in 5 students with learning and attention issues in public schools and the dedicated teachers who work with them each day. We can invest in programs that will cultivate creative and informed educators, offer rigorous, personalized learning environments, empower students and parents, and protect the civil rights of students with disabilities. But this proposal is not the way to do that.

How you can make a difference

Now that the President has proposed his budget, the Senate and the House must come to an agreement about how much to spend, and they have until September to do it.

Members of Congress need to hear from you now! Take action and let your Senators and Representatives know that public schools matter, our students deserve a quality education, and they can’t afford to wait!

For more information on how the proposed budget can impact students with learning and attention issues, read our Federal Funding Blog Series.

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