President Donald Trump’s pick for the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, just recently hit the 100th day milestone of her tenure in that position. Just like almost everything else in the Trump administration, her appointment, her words, and her actions have been controversial. Just last week, President Trump’s first full education budget was revealed, and it displayed both Trump and Devos’ desire to shrink the federal role in education and expand charter schools. For future teachers, for current families and children, and for you, the general population, a human being with a beating heart, this new budget should worry you.
President Trump’s Education Budget proposes cutting $10.6 billion in federal programs.
Under this proposal, 22 federal education programs would be eliminated. $1.2 billion for after school programs serving 1.6 million children would be eliminated. Let’s just take a second to fully understand the impact of after-school programs. Numerous studies and decades of research have showed that participation in after-school programs positively impact academic achievement, social and emotional development, prevention of risky behaviors, and health and wellness. Don’t believe me? Search this topic on any reputable academic journal and you will find the same answer. (And I made it a little easier for you: here is a link to the Harvard Family Research Project’s study on this topic). Additionally, after-school programs allow parents to work longer, or work in general, knowing that their children are safe and in a secure environment. After-school programs provide safe spaces for children residing in dangerous neighborhoods. In short, after-school programs offer a plethora of wide-ranging benefits for students, for families, and for society.
Perkins loans benefiting disabled students would be cut by $700 million. Teacher training will be cut by $2.1 billion. Additionally, according to budget documents obtained by the Washington Post, the Trump administration proposes to end the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which more than 400,000 students count on in being able to gain an education. Signed into law in 2007 by George W. Bush as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, this program offers those whose jobs benefit society (government and non-profit employees) the chance to have their student loans forgiven after ten years of on-time, income-based payments. Furthermore, the proposed budget shows cuts to federal work-study funds that help students work their way through college by $487 million. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which is a grant for undergraduate students with exceptional final need, would also be eliminated. Programs such as TRIO and Gear Up, which help disadvantaged students in middle and high schools prepare for college, would also see nearly $200 million in cuts. For college students with children, this proposed budget eliminates all funding for Child Care Access Means Parents in School, which is a program that subsidizes campus-based day care for low-income parents earning a degree, and is often the only reason young parents can still be able to gain a higher education.
Increasing access to post-secondary education for everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, external situations, financial capabilities, or disabilities, should be a priority. It is irrefutable that higher education leads to better health outcomes, higher earning potential, and lower unemployment rates. Not only does higher education benefit the individual, but it also benefits the broader society in general. Why would anyone want to take that away? The Milken Institute released a study that shows that higher education leads to a better regional economy. The report associates education with increases in real gross domestic product per capita and real wages, “linking the addition of one year in a worker’s average years of schooling to a 10.5-percent rise in a region’s real GDP per capita and a 8.4-percent rise in the region’s real wages. The regional jumps in GDP and wages grow even larger—to 17.4 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively—when applied to workers who already hold at least a high-school diploma” (A Master of Degrees: The Effect of Educational Attainment on Regional Economic Prosperity, 2013). With cuts to programs that help students both have access to school as well as stay in school, not only will the student suffer, but the nation itself will suffer.
This proposed budget helps charters and religious schools, the direction that DeVos and Trump want America’s education future to be headed. The budget proposes taking $1 billion out of the federal government’s Title I funds, which allocates money for states to support education poor children, to instead pay for a new grant program that will give states incentives to fund privately-operated charters and religious schools. $500 million will be provided for charter schools, which is over $50% of the current funding for charters, and $250 million will be proposed for grants that would pay for “pay for expanding and studying the impacts of vouchers for private and religious schools”.
This proposed budget for the future of our nation’s students and overall education is worrisome. The majority of the nation’s college students rely on grants, repayment programs, work-study, and loans to pave their way through college. And it’s not just paying for college that this administration’s proposed budget negatively affects, but also just gaining access to college. With severe cuts to teacher training, to after-school programs, and to public education, children will be negatively impacted. Education is the most powerful investment in our future, and today’s children are tomorrow’s future, so let us allocate our resources where they really matter.