House Democrats Seek $4.4 Billion Ed. Dept. Increase

2020 spending proposal clashes with Trump plan
By Andrew Ujifusa — May 07, 2019 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

House Democrats want a $4.4 billion spending increase for the U.S. Department of Education in the coming fiscal year, including notable increases for special education, educator training, and a $260 million initiative focused on social-emotional learning.

The spending legislation unveiled last week would provide $75.9 billion in discretionary funding for the department in fiscal 2020, compared with the $71.5 billion it currently receives in fiscal 2019. A host of programs would receive additional funding, while the budget request submitted in March by President Donald Trump seeks to slash Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ budget by 10 percent. Under the House bill, Title I, the biggest pot of K-12 cash, which is intended for disadvantaged students, would get $16.9 billion in fiscal 2020, $1 billion more than it gets now. Special education grants to states would also rise by $1 billion, up to $13.4 billion.

Want a sharp contrast? Trump wants $64 billion for the department in fiscal 2020. The gap between his proposal and what the House Democrats want is $11.9 billion, or 16.6 percent of current department spending.

And remember the viral outrage over the president’s initial proposal to cut nearly $18 million from Special Olympics support? Democrats want to give it $21 million in fiscal 2020, or $3.5 million more than it gets now. (Trump rescinded his original proposal.)

The House subcommittee that oversees education spending reported the Democrats’ bill favorably to the full House appropriations committee last week. During a March hearing with DeVos, Democrats in the House as well as the Senate made it clear—as they have with each of Trump’s three budget requests during his administration—that they strongly dislike his Education Department proposals, including the plan to create a federal tax credit for educational choice.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the chairwoman of the House subcommittee, stressed that the bill includes “historic investments” in education and other areas of the federal government.

And discussing the $260 million initiative for social-emotional learning in the bill, DeLauro said, “We know these interventions have lasting, positive impacts on students.”

No Guarantees

Meanwhile, Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., praised the proposed spending increases for programs focused on young children such as Head Start, saying, “This is not only great for parents, it is great for kids.” (Head Start would get $11.6 billion in the bill, compared with the $10.1 billion it receives now.)

However, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the subcommittee’s top Republican and DeLauro’s predecessor as chairman, said that while he supported some elements of the bill, he found fault with other pieces of it. He also criticized Democrats for writing it without paying attention to broader budget constraints. (Congress must still reach a deal to lift statutory caps on federal spending.)

Just as many pieces of Trump’s budget request are unlikely to get approved by Congress, there’s no guarantee that all, or any, of the proposals from House Democrats will become the law of the land, either. Among other things, Republicans control the Senate. Although Senate GOP appropriators have backed small increases for education spending since Trump took office, a $4.4 billion increase for the Education Department is probably too rich for their blood.

Among the other highlights from the legislation:

• Trump wants to eliminate three prominent department programs: state grants for educator training, after-school activities, and block grants for student support and academic enrichment. Democrats want more money for all three. Under their proposal, those educator training grants would go from $2.1 billion to $2.6 billion, after-school programming would get $1.3 billion instead of $1.2 billion, and the block grants would get a $150 million increase for a total of $1.3 billion.

• The portion of federal education law for English-language acquisition typically doesn’t attract much attention, although it has more recently in the Trump administration. But it’s a huge winner in the Democrats’ bill. Right now, it gets $737 million. The Democrats want to increase its funding by $243 million for fiscal 2020.

• The $260 million for the social-emotional learning initiative that DeLauro highlighted would be spread across four existing programs: Educator Innovation and Research, Full-Service Community Schools, School Safety National Activities, and Supporting Effective Educator Development. Education Innovation and Research would get the biggest share of this money at $170 million.

• Not surprisingly, Trump and DeVos’ pitch to create $5 billion in annual tax credits for educational choice, called Education Freedom Scholarships, is not mentioned in either the House legislation itself or in a bill summary provided by the House appropriations committee.

A version of this article appeared in the May 08, 2019 edition of Education Week as House Democrats Seek $4.4 Billion Ed. Dept. Increase


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Teachers Shouldn't Have to Drive Ubers on the Side, Education Secretary Says
In a speech on priorities for the year, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said teachers should be paid competitive salaries.
5 min read
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivers a speech during the “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” event in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2023.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivers a speech during the “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” event in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2023.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
Federal A Chaotic Start to a New Congress: What Educators Need to Know
A new slate of lawmakers will have the chance to influence federal education policy in the 118th Congress.
4 min read
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks on the House floor after the first vote for House Speaker when he did not receive enough votes to be elected during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3 following the first round of voting for House Speaker. McCarthy fell short of enough votes to be elected speaker in three rounds of voting on opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol.
Andrew Harnik/AP
Federal Historic Changes to Title IX and School Safety Funding: How 2022 Shaped K-12 Policy
Federal lawmakers sought to make Title IX more inclusive, respond to school shootings, and crack down on corrupt charter schools.
6 min read
Revelers march down Fifth Avenue during the annual NYC Pride March, Sunday, June 26, 2022, in New York.
Revelers march down Fifth Avenue during New York City's annual Pride March in June. Proposed changes to Title IX would explicitly protect students from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexuality.
Mary Altaffer/AP
Federal What Education Issues Did Voters Care About Most? Hint: It Was Not Critical Race Theory
An NEA poll shows voters' education priorities in the midterm elections.
5 min read
People fill out ballots to vote at Benjamin Banneker Middle School during Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Silver Spring, Md.
People fill out ballots to vote at Benjamin Banneker Middle School on Nov. 8 in Silver Spring, Md.
Jose Luis Magana/AP