President Trump’s budget is not expected out until Tuesday, May 23, but the Washington Post is reporting that the Administration is planning massive cuts to the U.S. Department of Education, and is proposing that another $1 billion be provided for school choice programs. (In related news, Secretary DeVos is expected to unveil the Administration’s school choice plan during a speech on Monday, May 22.)
As expected, the budget would also eliminate funding for Title IV-A, the ESSA block grant that would target funds to every state and district. The Washington Post states, “The Trump administration would dedicate no money to a fund for student support and academic enrichment that is meant to help schools pay for, among other things, mental-health services, anti-bullying initiatives, physical education, Advanced Placement courses and science and engineering instruction. Congress created the fund, which totals $400 million this fiscal year, by rolling together several smaller programs. Lawmakers authorized as much as $1.65 billion, but the administration’s budget for it in the next fiscal year is zero.”
This block grant was championed by Republicans during reauthorization of ESSA after they eliminated the Math and Science Partnership program and other smaller targeted grants. More about the programs the Administration plans to eliminate here and about Title IVA and STEM here.
The Administration’s skinny budget for FY2018, released earlier this spring, eliminates Title II professional development and class size reduction funds, and 21st Century Learning Programs (afterschool programs).
It is important to keep in mind that Congress is responsible for passing appropriations laws. As the Post article points out, “Asked for comment, a spokesman for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, referred to Alexander’s response in March to the release of Trump’s budget outline. That statement emphasized that while the president may suggest a budget, “under the Constitution, Congress passes appropriations bills.”
The FY2017 budget passed last month provides $400 million the ESSA Title IV, far less than the $1.65 billion that Congressional authorizers requested for the program. Since this is not enough funding for all districts to receive funding for FY2017 only states have the flexibility to distribute the funds to districts competitively rather than by formula. Learn more about Title IV during this webinar on May 24.
Business Invests in Professional Learning. Why Doesn’t Education?
An Education Week commentary written by ASCD Executive Director Deborah S. Delisle argues why cutting professional learning funds for teachers is shortsighted. Read it here.
House Committee Approves Career and Technical Ed Legislation
The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353) updates federal CTE policies to help more students gain the knowledge and skills they need to compete for in-demand jobs. The proposal is largely identical to legislation the House of Representatives passed in September 2016.
Stay tuned, and watch for more updates in future issues of NSTA Express.
Jodi Peterson is the Assistant Executive Director of Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.
The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.