Senators Critical of FY 2018 DoEd Budget, Cuts, Proposed Vouchers

Republican and Democratic senators on the Senate education appropriations subcommittee sharply criticize President Trump’s FY 2018 Education Department budget request, which would reduce spending by 13.5%, the most since the Reagan administration.

They expressed skepticism about cuts and the 22 eliminated programs in the DoEd budget proposal. And Democrats sparred with DoEd Secy. Betsey DeVos over how the spending blueprint distributes Title I spending for disadvantaged students, and the new voucher proposal.

“This is a difficult budget request to defend,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the subcommittee chairman, told DeVos. And he said the elimination of formula-funded programs like the $2 billion Title II program for teacher training, and the $1 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers program that funds after-school, will be “all but impossible” to get through Congress.

The spending proposal from the president would cut $9.2 billion from the DoEd. It’s the largest proposed single-year cut from a president to the agency since President Ronald Reagan’s spending plan for fiscal 1983.

Senators questioned DeVos on how a Title I public school choice initiative was different than the Race to the Top (RT2) competitive-grant program that gave money to states in exchange for taking certain approaches to standards, teacher evaluations, and testing.

In addition to the $250 million voucher proposal and the $1 billion public school choice program under Title I that would follow students to schools of their choice, the Trump budget seeks a 50 percent increase to federal charter school grants, which would bring that grant funding up to $500 million.

DeVos responded that no such policy strings would be attached to the Title I proposal, and that it would be entirely voluntarily. Her response makes the program sound a lot like the RT2 grants were also voluntary in the sense they were part of a competitive grants program.

Senators also criticized the proposed elimination of the $2 billion grant program for teacher development and class-size reduction, as well as the $113 million cut to special education and the elimination of the $400 million Title IV block grant for well-rounded education programs.

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About Frank Klimko

Frank Klimko is a nationally known journalist, grants expert and speech writer/speaker. He has years of experience helping nonprofits devise lists of the right funding opportunities and secure funding from these foundations and corporate entities. Clients have focused on an array of areas including child care, homeless, hunger and K-12 education. Additionally, he is a Freedom of Information Act expert, who has helped numerous clients with securing proprietary information from the federal government. Currently, Frank Klimko writes the Children & Youth Funding Report and Private Grants Alert, which are Washington DC-based publications. CYF is a daily publication covering Congress, the Education Dept. and the various federal regulatory agencies. PGA, another daily publication, covers the world of private philanthropy.
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