Every year, the President of the United States submits a proposal to Congress which describes how the President would like Congress to allocate money to the federal government. This proposal outlines how funds should be spent and represents the Administration’s policy priorities for the next year.

This week, President Trump submitted his proposal to Congress. Unfortunately, the newly released Trump Administration’s budget proposal for FY19 fails to adequately invest in our nation’s 50 million public school students and 3 million public school teachers.

Decreasing student and teacher support

First, the President’s proposed budget slashes the Department of Education’s (USED) budget by $3.6 billion (or 5.4%), eliminating nearly 30 education programs that support students and teachers, and decreasing funding for many more. Specifically, the proposed budget:

  • Eliminates Title IV Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a $400 million grant program that provides funds to ensure safe and supportive learning environments and access to well-rounded education, including access to school counselors, science and art curriculum, physical education, and technology;
  • Eliminates 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a $1.2 billion program that supports before- and after-school and enrichment programs (Title IV Part B of ESSA);
  • Eliminates the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program, – a $2.1 billion program that provides professional development for teachers and seeks to reduce class sizes (Title II Part A of ESSA);
  • Eliminates the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program (more recently renamed Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN)) which provides funds to ensure that students receive high-quality literacy instruction from early childhood through high school (under Title II of ESSA,)

Putting civil rights protections at risk

In addition to slashing programs that contribute to academic success, the budget fails to invest in programs that protect the rights of students with disabilities and their families. Students with disabilities face unique challenges in school, such as being more susceptible to bullying and more likely to be suspended than their peers. Despite this, the President’s proposal cuts the budget for the USED Office for Civil Rights — the office responsible for ensuring equal access for students with disabilities by enforcing laws like IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. It also offers no additional funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — a law that has been underfunded for decades but continues to serve an increasing number of students.

Failing to invest in the future of education

Further, the budget proposal removes incentives and opportunities to strengthen our public education system. It allows up to $1 billion of public funds to be used for private school voucher programs. Voucher programs are problematic for many reasons. They fail to uphold the civil rights of students with disabilities and their families and they typically do not cover the full cost of private schools or provide parents with adequate information to make informed decisions for their child.

Additionally, the proposal cuts programs — like the Teacher Quality Partnership grants and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program — that are important tools for recruiting and retaining teachers in high-need areas, like special education.

Next Steps in the Process

Congress will consider the President’s proposed budget as they work toward a budget agreement in the coming months. The federal budget has been an area of concern in recent months, with Congress unable to reach any long-term spending agreements. However, if Members of Congress want to improve education and invest in the future, they will pass a budget that increases funding for our public schools, provides teachers with adequate resources in the classroom, and ensures that all students receive a high-quality education.

Earlier this week, Mimi Corcoran, President and CEO of NCLD, issued a statement in response to the President’s proposal. We look forward to working with Congress to ensure the federal budget prioritizes our children’s futures.

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