Trump Administration Budget Plan Slashes Education Department, Boosts Charters and Vouchers

USDoEThe U.S. Department of Education faces a 13.5 percent cut ($9.2 billion) under the Trump administration federal budget blueprint released today, a plan that also boosts charters and vouchers and calls for certain federal funds targeted to aid the education of low-income students to follow children who move from one public school to another.

The Washington Post reports that the so-called “skinny budget” plan would downsize or eliminate a raft of grant programs, including grants for teacher training and after-school and summer programs, among others. The cuts, among the steepest the agency has ever sustained, would be coupled with a historic investment — $1.4 billion — in charter schools, private schools and other school-choice initiatives.

The push for school choice includes the following new allocations of federal funding:

  • A $168 million increase in charter school funding — 50 percent above the current level.
  • $250 million in new spending to fund a newly created private-school choice program—this funding would most likely be used to provide vouchers for families to use at private or parochial schools.
  • $1 billion in new spending to encourage districts to adopt a controversial form of choice: Allowing local, state and federal funds to follow children to whichever public school they choose. The additional $1 billion would be channeled into Title I, a $15 billion grant program for schools with high concentrations of poor children.

Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog reports that the plan would eliminate Title II spending, “which is currently funded at $2.25 billion and helps states and districts hire and provide professional development for teachers.” In addition, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program would also be scrapped, eliminating “after-school and extended-learning programs.”

The Wall Street Journal quotes U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos saying, “The budget places power in the hands of parents and families to choose schools that are best for their children by investing an additional $1.4 billion in school-choice programs.”