- The FY18 budget released by the Trump administration Thursday proposes a $9.2 billion cut to the U.S. Department of Education, which, at 13.5%, is one of the steepest the agency has ever seen, according to The Washington Post.
- In addition to the cuts, the budget would shift $1.4 billion to promote school choice through the expansion of charter schools, private school vouchers and other alternative school models.
- The budget also includes a request for an additional $1 billion for the Title I program, which is used to strengthen schools serving high numbers of low-income and minority children.
The request to expand school choice in the FY2018 budget should come as a surprise to no one. As a candidate, President Trump promised a $20 billion investment in school choice, and both Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have a history of supporting the expansion of charter schools and private school vouchers.
The idea of funding following students is one many public education advocates feel would decimate the nation's public schools, many of which are already struggling. But proponents of such a model argue it forces schools to step up and make improvements in the quality of education provided to make their schools more attractive options for all students — a scenario in which, seemingly, everybody wins.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the budget proposal is the expansion of the Title I program, which would seem to back up DeVos' day one rhetoric about ensuring support for all students, particularly those who are most vulnerable. With the intent to allow these funds to travel with students as well, the administration may be looking to offset the $2.4 billion cuts to teacher training programs and $1.2 billion cuts to after-school and summer enrichment programs.
Under the traditional funding model, such cuts would disproportionately impact these same students, who often see the highest teacher attrition rates, greatest impact of underqualified teachers, and who often have the least access to cost-prohibitive after-school and summer programs. The administration argues in the budget proposal that the $2.4 billion Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants Program is "poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact."
Also untouched is a $13 billion program to support students with disabilities, another subgroup many fear will suffer under the present administration.