President Donald Trump has released his proposed budget summary and some of the recommended spending cuts are drawing criticism from various education policy and advocacy groups.
The newly proposed budget would slash $9 billion from the $68 million allotted to the Education Department, according to Education Week. The result is the dismantling of key educational program meant to help after-school programs. It also dismantles programs that help districts train and hire educators.
The Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, had very strong words for the proposal calling it a "draconian proposal." "Dismantling our nation’s public education system while investing in unproven schemes to incentivize private school vouchers that have no evidence of improving student achievement could have devastating consequences for students that could take decades to fix," according to the Center for American Progress.
The programs that will either be eliminated or incur significant funding cuts include: "Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program, 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program, Teacher Quality Partnership, Impact Aid Support Payments for Federal Property and International Education programs," according to the USA Today.
The National AfterSchool Association released a statement in direct reaction to the President's proposed budget. In their statement, the NAA called the budget "heartbreaking" and one of "dire consequences." That being said, the NAA as well as many other educational associations and organizations understand that the budget is just a proposal and that the citizens can help stop the dissolution of these programs.
The NAA along with the National Association for the Education of Young Children and others are both urging the public to ask congress to reject cuts and invest in kids.
The National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García released a statement in response to the budget. In her statement, García states her opposition to the cuts.
“Educators believe a great public education is critical to ensuring student opportunity and success," said García. "Sadly, the Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos scheme to take taxpayer dollars from public schools to fund private school vouchers is misguided and would harm our students. Vouchers do not work, they undermine accountability to parents and taxpayers, and they have failed to provide opportunity to all of our students."
"America and our students deserve better," she continued. "The purpose of investing in public education is to help level the playing field so that children in every ZIP code receive an adequate and equitable education. Regardless, educators will continue to stand up for all students and for the promise of public education. And we expect most members of Congress will agree."
Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, applauded the president's budget proposal for increasing funding for charter schools. The 2018 budget calls for a $168 million increase for charter schools.
"Today, President Trump demonstrated that he is a strong supporter of charter public schools. The charter school movement is grateful for the president’s support, and we applaud his commitment to providing critically needed funding for the Charter Schools Program (CSP). This funding will allow more high-quality charter schools to open, expand, and replicate – and will help finance facilities for charter schools – so that more students have access to the great education they deserve," Rees said in a statement.
Lindsey Burke, who is the Director of the Center for Education Policy at the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, lauded the proposal's attempt to "restor[e] federalism in education." However, she also criticized the investment in a national school choice program, worrying that "it could entangle Washington in local school policy and private education."
Whether or not these education programs survive still remains to be seen. However, Trump's budget proposal does provide us with an ideological blueprint for how the administration views the federal government's role in education.
Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor.