The first step in the federal budget process each year is the president’s release of his proposed budget. This year, the Trump administration sketched out a proposal that looks strikingly similar to the previous two. Once again, by slashing billions from the federal education budget and putting a stop to valuable programs, President Trump has made it clear that providing a quality, equitable education for all students is not a priority for the administration.
Under the president’s proposed FY2020 budget, students, teachers, and families would lose out. Here are three ways the president’s budget fails to meet the needs of our nation’s students and educators.
Proposal Problem #1: Slashing School Supports and Resources
The president’s budget would cut $8.5B (or 12 percent) from the U.S. Department of Education’s programs, compared to last year’s funding level. This includes the elimination of 29 programs that serve some of our nation’s most vulnerable students and families.
- Title II Part A of the Every Students Succeeds Act’s (ESSA) Supporting Effective Instruction program (last funded at $2.1B) will be cut, leaving states and districts without grants to improve professional development for educators in critical areas such as supporting students with disabilities and implementing multi-tier systems of supports (MTSS).
- The Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program (more recently renamed Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) under Title II of ESSA) would be cut, leaving schools without funds to promote high-quality literacy instruction from early childhood through high school.
- The Title IV Part A program under ESSA — Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants — would end, cutting off funding for schools to invest in safe, supportive learning environments and well-rounded programming, including after-school programs, school counseling services, and literacy education programs.
- The Title IV Part B program under ESSA — 21st Century Community Learning Centers — would be eliminated, leaving schools without funding for before- and after-school and enrichment programs.
At a time when schools and districts are tackling challenges like discipline, safety, and inclusion, these programs are essential. States are currently working to implement their plans under ESSA and serve all students equitably, but they will be forced to do so without adequate resources.
Proposal Problem #2: Freezing Funds for Growing Populations
On top of the massive proposed cuts, the president’s budget proposed to maintain current levels of funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Title I of ESSA — the two laws that offer civil rights protections to students. Despite an increase in the number of students served under these programs and a decrease in the federal government’s contributions per student, schools are obligated to continue educating all students and meeting the requirements set out in law. As a result, states and districts will be forced to stretch their already thin resources even further to ensure that student needs are met.
Proposal Problem 3: Investing in What Doesn’t Work for All Students
Using the funds that have been slashed from so many essential programs, President Trump has proposed to allow a tax credit of up to $50 billion over the next 10 years for individual and corporate contributions to scholarship-granting entities. In other words, the administration is offering a tax incentive for private school voucher programs. It is abundantly clear that private school voucher programs fail to uphold the civil rights of students with disabilities and their families and typically do not cover the full cost of private schools or provide parents with adequate information to make informed decisions for their child.
Calling on Congress to Invest Adequately
For the last two years, Congress has decidedly rejected the president’s proposed budgets and continued to invest in public education at sustained levels. We urge them to do the same this year. Last week, Lindsay Jones, president and CEO of NCLD, issued a statement in response to the president’s budget. On behalf of students, educators, and families, NCLD and our partners will continue to work with Congress to pass a thoughtful budget that ensures all students have the services and supports needed to succeed. Tell your members of Congress today to fund the programs that provide students and educators with the supports and resources they need.