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GOP Education Budget Ignores Trump and DeVos' Proposed School Choice Plans

House Republicans are still planning to make big cuts to the education budget, their proposal just doesn’t cut as deep as the one Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had laid out in March.

Released on Wednesday, the proposal by GOP members cuts the budget of the Education Department by $2.4 billion, or 3.5 percent, a noticeable difference from the $9.2 billion in cuts that we’ve been reporting on in Trump’s proposal.

Perhaps even more noticeable than the numerical difference in the budget was the snub House GOP members gave to the school choice proposals the president had outlined in his budget request.

Trump had proposed setting aside an additional $1.4 billion strictly for school choice programs and giving a hefty $168 million increase in funding for charter schools. The president sought a new $250 million private school voucher program that would be put in place and boost the Title I program by $1 billion in states and school districts that use the public funding for school choice. Neither one made the cut in the latest budget proposal by Republicans.

Betsy DeVos had been a strong advocate for this aspect of Trump’s budget proposal, but was met with harsh words by both Republicans and Democrats last month when she testified before a Senate appropriations subcommittee.

Whether there will be funding for Trump and DeVos’ school choice programs will become clearer when the committee publishes its bill report next week. Funding for charter schools would be increased by $28 million to $370 million, but that’s still far less than the proposed $500 million by President Trump.

This of course isn’t the first time the Trump administration clashed with GOP House members, though his proposed budget did appear to secure a win with cutting part of Title II funding for teacher training and reducing class sizes. Trump had argued Title II’s $2.4 billion was spread too thin and didn’t deliver a strong enough impact.

While states would continue to receive around $15.9 billion to support low-income children through Title I, the proposal also outlined several budget increases. Special-education grants to states would receive an increase of $200 million, as well as a $100 million increase for a grant program that schools can use in a variety of ways.

Democrats as well as prominent education advocates argued that the budget cuts are still unacceptable and will have a negative effect on the education of students and professional development of teachers.

Regarding the budget cut, National Education Association President, Lily Eskelsen García, released a statement decrying the cuts, saying “If enacted, it will deprive millions of students of opportunities by eliminating funding that will result in nearly 8,500 educators losing their jobs, slashing funding for class-size reduction programs, cutting funding for after-school programs that serve the students most in need, and limiting or eliminating professional development opportunities for nearly 2.5 million educators.”

 

Article by Joel Stice, Education World Contributor

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