Trump’s FY19 Education Budget Proposes an $8.1 Billion Cut

President Donald Trump giving the 2018 State of the Union Address.

President Donald Trump released his proposed FY19 budget this week and it proposes cutting $8.1 billion from the U.S. Department of Education’s discretionary spending compared to what the department received from the annualized FY18  continuing resolutions. $6.6 billion of those cuts come in the departments discretionary funding.

The budget proposes several program eliminations:

The second largest program to be eliminated is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers which accounts for just over $1.1 billion. They explain in President Trump’s FY19 major savings and reforms document:

The 21st CCLC program, authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, enables communities to establish or expand centers that provide additional student learning opportunities through before- and after-school programs, and summer school programs, aimed at improving student academic outcomes. While research has demonstrated positive findings on the impact of afterschool programs overall, the subset of afterschool programs funded by 21st CCLC are not, on the whole, helping students meet challenging State academic standards. For example, on average, from 2013 to 2015, less than 20 percent of program participants improved from not proficient to proficient or above on State assessments in reading and mathematics. Additionally, student improvement in academic grades was limited, with States reporting higher math and English grades for less than half of regular program participants. These recent results are consistent with findings of the last rigorous national evaluation of the program, conducted in 2005, which also found the program had limited academic impact. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of students attend 21st CCLC for fewer than 30 days a year, suggesting that the majority of families with participating students do not use the program for childcare.

These data strongly suggest that the 21st CCLC is not generating the benefits commensurate with an annual investment of more than $1 billion in limited Federal education funds. Moreover, the provision of before- and after-school academic enrichment opportunities may be better supported with other Federal, State, local, or private funds, including the $15 billion Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies program.

The largest program to be eliminated is the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants which was funded at just over $2 billion dollars. They said:

The Budget proposes to eliminate the Supporting Effective Instruction (SEI) State Grants program. While the SEI State Grants program authorizes a wide range of activities, in school year 2015-2016, 52 percent of funds were used for PD and 25 percent were used for class-size reduction. A Local Educational Agency that identifies either activity as a key strategy for responding to a comprehensive needs assessment may use Title I, Part A funds for the same purpose. Title I funds also may be used to recruit and retain effective teachers. In addition, PD as currently provided, has shown limited impact on student achievement. For example, a recent evaluation of an intensive elementary school mathematics PD program found that while the PD improved teacher knowledge and led to improvements in teachers’ use and quality of explanation in the classroom, there was no difference in student achievement test scores on either the State assessment or on a study-administered math test. Additional Department of Education-funded studies of PD have found similar results. While class size reduction has been shown to increase student achievement, school districts used SEI State Grant funds to pay the salaries of an estimated 8,000 teachers in school year 2015-2016, out of a total nationwide teacher workforce of roughly three million teachers. These data suggest that eliminating the program would likely have minimal impact on class sizes or teacher staffing levels.

They also eliminated $32 million for statewide longitundinal database systems, but, unfortunately, the only reason that was done was because the work it funded had been completed.

The U.S. Department of Education highlighted their priorities in the FY19 budget:

  • $1 billion increase for public and private school choice through the new Opportunity Grants program
  • $200 million dedicated to STEM education
  • More than $13 billion to maintain the Federal investment in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act State formula and discretionary grants
  • $15.5 billion to maintain the Federal investment in Title I grants to Local Educational Agencies (LEAs)
  • $43 million for School Climate Transformation grants to help States and LEAs mitigate the impacts of the opioid epidemic on students and schools

“The president’s budget request expands education freedom for America’s families while protecting our nation’s most vulnerable students,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said. “The budget also reflects our commitment to spending taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently by consolidating and eliminating duplicative and ineffective federal programs that are better handled at the state or local level. I look forward to working with Congress to pass a budget that puts students first and returns power in education to where it belongs: with states, districts and families.”