Details of Trump Education Budget Emerge, Public Schools to Face Cuts as School Choice Initiatives Expand

White HouseNew details from the Washington Post confirm that President Trump’s first full federal budget proposal includes a cut of 13.5% ($9.2 billion) to the U.S. Department of Education as signaled in the so-called “skinny budget” outline released back in mid-March.

That outline called for eliminating the $2.1 billion (Title II) grant program for teacher and principal recruitment and development and a $1.2 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant program that supports after-school and summer programs.

Emerging reports indicate the following specific cuts will also be proposed to federal K-12 education programs:

  • ESSA Title IV Student support and academic enrichment grants – cut $400 million to eliminate all federal funding for these grants
  • Funding for career and technical education – cut $196 million (15%)
  • Arts in education programs – cut $27 million and eliminate program
  • Funding for gifted and talented programs – cut $12 million and eliminate programs
  • Promise neighborhoods – cut $13 million
  • Special Olympics education programs – cut $12 million and eliminate programs
  • Funding for Native Hawaiian education – cut $33 million and eliminate program
  • Funding for Alaska Native education – cut $32 million and eliminate program

Interestingly, the cuts to federal grants for career and technical education are being proposed at the same time Congress is moving to reauthorize the Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.  (See previous post.)

In another interesting move, the Trump Administration is apparently proposing no funding for a new Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program created in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  Congress, with bipartisan support had authorized as much as $1.65 billion for the grants, and had approved $400 million for these grants in the 2017 federal spending year, which ends on Sept. 30., but the administration’s budget for the grants in fiscal 2018 is zero.

These grants are meant to help schools to: a) provide all students with access to a well-rounded education (e.g., Advanced Placement Courses, science, technology, engineering, arts, math, music and computer science instruction, etc.); b) improve school conditions for student learning (e.g., mental health services, anti-bullying initiatives, more physical education, etc.); and c) improve the use of educational technology to improve the academic achievement and digital literacy of all students. They were funded at $400 million in federal spending year 2017.

These cuts may help clear the way for the Trump Administration’s plan to provide an additional $400 million in proposed spending on Charter Schools, up 50% over current funding levels and a new $250 million federal investment in “Education Innovation and Research Grants,” which would apparently be used to fund expanding and studying the impacts of vouchers for private and religious schools.  Based on news reports to date, it is unclear how much of this $250 million would be spent on research and how much, if any, might be spent on vouchers themselves.

The Trump Administration will also propose re-allocating $1 billion in Title I dollars meant for low-income children to a new grant program—called Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success or FOCUS—for school districts that agree to allow students to choose which public school they wish to attend—and allow those students to take their federal state and local dollars with them. The apparent goal of this new program is to do away with neighborhood attendance zones that the Administration argues trap needy kids in struggling schools.

The full federal budget proposal is scheduled for release next week (May 23) and is reportedly close to being finalized, covers the 2018 federal fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1.