Congress approves omnibus spending bill with substantial increases in education funding
- The new omnibus spending bill, if signed by President Trump, would allocate $70.9 billion for education, an increase of $2.6 billion over previously enacted levels in fiscal year 2018.
- The new budget, which either maintains or increases current spending levels in all major categories of education spending, is viewed an indictment of the education values promoted by President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a blog in Education Week suggests.
- In the wake of recent episodes of school violence, the bill also increases federal school safety funding, but shifts the funding from the current school safety grant funding to a new STOP School Violence Act that allows funding to be used for physical security measures at schools as well as violence prevention efforts.
The U.S. Senate approved the $1.3 trillion federal spending bill by a vote of 65-32, a day after the House of Representatives approved the measure by a vote of 256-167. Since the bill contains increased provisions for border security, the military and addressing the opioid crisis, it is likely that President Trump will sign it before the end of the day to avert a government shut-down.
Education advocates are likely to find much cause for rejoicing over this budget. In terms of overall budget categories, there are no cuts to education. In fact, the budget increases funding in a number of categories including Title I funding, Head Start, special education, and student aid. Though charter school funding did increase, some of Devos’s other school choice initiatives did not receive requested funding. And some of the programs that DeVos sought to cut, such as after-school initiatives, remain safe in the new budget.
Some pundits see the new budget as an indictment of the DeVos education agenda. Congress may be responding to pressures from constituents or to the current protective climate after the Parkland shooting. Their motives are not clear. However, the current budget plan seems to make everyone, except conservatives who worry about the country’s fiscal future, happy.