You might already have read about President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018 that would eliminate $2.3 billion in Title II spending on professional development for teachers and after-school programs, while boosting school choice efforts. But that budget wouldn’t kick in until October, and would impact the 2018-19 school year. What about the fiscal 2017 budget that would fund the 2017-18 school year?
It looks like Trump’s fiscal 2017 blueprint shares at least one big thing in common with his plans for fiscal 2018: The administration wants a roughly 50 percent cut to Title II grants to states to $1.1 billion, as well as the elimination of a $52 million school counseling program and the $152 million Math Science Partnerships, according to reports in both Congressional Quarterly and Politico. These K-12 cuts would add up to around $1.6 billion. Combined with proposed cuts to Pell Grants, the cuts to the Education Department budget would total $3 billion.
In addition, the fiscal 2017 budget proposal would eliminate funding for Striving Readers ($147 million), a literacy program, $47 million in physical education funding, and $28 million for Advanced Placement, the reports say. Striving Readers was retooled in the Every Student Succeeds Act, but several other programs, like the counseling and math and science programs, were consolidated into the big Title IV block grant of ESSA.
So why are we still talking about the fiscal 2017 budget? Because Congress has never really passed one. Instead, it’s basically rolled over fiscal 2016 spending into fiscal 2017, through what’s known in congressional lingo as a continuing resolution. That resolution is set to expire in exactly one month, on April 28. Unless Congress decides to approve yet another continuing resolution, adopt Trump’s proposed fiscal 2017 budget, or take some other action to keep federal spending going, the government will shut down in a month. (We explored what adopting a continuing resolution through September would mean for schools here.)
We’ve recently taken deep dives into Title II funding. On Monday, we explored how cuts to Title II could impact private and charter schools. On Tuesday, we looked at how Title II is used by schools and got reactions from educators about the possibility that it could be eliminated.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, called the cuts to education as well as health and other federal programs “absolute non-starters for Democrats.” And groups including ASCD, the American Federation of School Administrators, Learning Forward, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals quickly criticized Trump’s fiscal 2017 budget plan.
“Eliminating $1.2 billion of funding for [Title II] will do far worse than devastate the budgets of states and school districts in the country; it will deal a real blow to our nation’s educators and their students and severely disrupt the implementation of several states’ ESSA plans,” the groups said in a statement.