President Trump released his budget for FY2019 programs on Monday, February 12, and, as expected, has requested significant cuts to key grant programs in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
The Administration is requesting $63.2 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S. Education Department FY2019 programs which will begin on October 1. This is approximately a 5.3 percent cut from current levels.
The budget also “streamlines and refocuses” the Federal investment in K-12 education by eliminating funding for 17 programs totaling $4.4 billion the Administration believes to be “duplicative, ineffective, or more appropriately supported through State, local, or private funds.”
Programs on the chopping block include the Title IV-A, Student Support and Academic Achievement Grants; Title II grants for teacher training; and afterschool programs.
Title IV-A Student Support and Academic Achievement Grants. The President is calling to completely eliminate the SSAE grant program in its third year of existence. The SSAE grant program under Title IV-A of ESSA is a flexible block grant that is designed to provide support for much needed health and safety programs, well-rounded education programs, including Science and STEM, and the effective use of education technology. Districts can use Title IVA funding to increase access to STEM for underserved and at risk student populations; support the participation of students in STEM nonprofit competitions; providing hands-on learning opportunities in STEM; integrate other academic subjects, including the arts, into STEM subject programs; create or enhance STEM specialty schools; and integrate classroom based and afterschool and informal STEM instruction.
Title II A: The President is calling for elimination of this $2 billion program that funds teacher training and class-size reduction efforts.
Title V, Afterschool Programs (21st Century Community Learning Centers): The President proposes eliminating this $1.2 billion grant for after-school programs. These programs fund high-quality STEM programming in afterschool and summer learning programs.
And now the good news: As a follow up to the Presidential memorandum to provide $200m for STEM education and computer science, the budget is calling for “$180 million in funding for the Education Innovation and Research program, as well as $20 million in new STEM grants.
The competitive Education Innovation and Research grants would support “evidence-based strategies and interventions to improve student achievement in STEM fields, including computer science.” $20 million would go for awards to “create innovative career and technical education programs in STEM fields, including computer science, that are aligned with regional workforce and labor market needs.”
Keep in mind that the Administration’s budget is simply a suggestion to Congress, and Congress has the final power to determine funding levels for these programs. However, it is important to note that the budget does signal the President’s priorities, and this year one of the six major themes listed in the President’s FY 2019 Budget was “promoting innovation and reform around STEM education”
Also complicating matters is the fact that appropriators have still not completed their work for the FY2018 budget year, which started Oct. 1 2018. Last week legislators lifted the budget caps on domestic programs, including education, and federal agencies will be open until March 23, allowing legislators time to finalize an omnibus spending bill for FY2018. More here on that.
President’s FY2019 budget also maintains support for Title I funding ($15.5B) and provides about $12.8 billion for special education funding . The Administration is also seeking $43 million for School Climate Transformation grants specifically to help states and local districts address the impact of opioids on students and schools.
The Budget maintains $1.1 billion in funding for career and technical education. The White House plan calls for sending the majority of this funding to high schools “to promote strategies such as apprenticeship, work-based learning and dual-enrollment.” It also calls for an increase in STEM offerings and for authorizing funding for “fast-track programs that prepare high-school graduates for jobs rebuilding America’s infrastructure.”
The President also wants to invest $1.1 billion in school choice programs.
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.