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What Education Programs Could Still Be Vulnerable in Trump’s Budget?

By Andrew Ujifusa — March 20, 2017 3 min read
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President Donald Trump’s budget plan for education has singled out several programs to be slimmed down or eliminated. But all we know right know is based on a mere two pages in a 62-page “skinny” federal budget the administration released last week. It doesn’t necessarily detail all or even most of the cuts and additions Trump’s team wants to make

Once the administration releases a more-detailed budget proposal for Congress to consider—and it might be several weeks before this is released—we’ll know a lot more about what Trump wants to do for public school spending.

In the interim, we talked with two veteran education staffers in Washington: Tom Corwin of the Penn Hill Group, a lobbying firm, and Michele McLaughlin, the president of the Knowledge Alliance, a research and advocacy group. They discussed which programs might be particularly vulnerable to proposed cuts, elimination, or some kind of lack of love from Trump. Here’s a few programs they mentioned.

Promise Neighborhoods: The program, started during the Obama administration, awards grants to local communities and other partners “to implement comprehensive, neighborhood-based plans for meeting the cradle-to-career educational, health, and social service needs of children and families in high-poverty communities.” Both Corwin and McLaughlin said that this program might be too closely associated with Obama to get much love from Trump’s Education Department. Receives $73 million in the current budget.

Preschool Development Grants: Perhaps the program’s biggest champion is Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the Senate education committee. Murray is a former preschool teacher and reportedly pushed hard for these grants during negotiations over what became the Every Student Succeeds Act. Control over the program, split between the Education Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, still hasn’t been totally sorted out, McLaughlin noted. Receives $250 million in the current budget

Full-Service Community Schools: This program award grants to districts and the Bureau of Indian Education “to provide comprehensive and coordinated academic, social, and health services for students, students’ family members, and community members that will result in improved educational outcomes for children” in challenged neighborhoods. Although it might be on the chopping block, it does have an ally in Congress with some punching power: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland. The veteran Democratic lawmaker has been a big-time fan of the program for some time. Check out his 2014 column in Education Week about these schools, co-written with former GOP Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois. Receives $10 million in the current budget

So what’s the total if you add all those programs up?

The budget would eliminate $333 million in current spending if those programs we listed above were to be cut. In the context of the Education Department’s $68 billion discretionary budget, that’s not nothing. But it’s not nearly as big as the proposed cuts to Title II and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which get $3.5 billion in federal money and would be eliminated entirely in Trump’s plan. That amount of money, by the way, is the same as current funding for federal charter school grants, which Trump wants to increase to $500 million in fiscal 2018.

There are a few other programs where Corwin and McLaughlin had somewhat different views:

Education Innovation and Research: This is the successor to the Investing in Innovation (i3) program that operated under Obama. EIR supports “evidence-based initiatives to develop, validate, and scale up effective education interventions that will help states and [districts] meet [federal] requirements.” As with Promise Neighborhoods, its “Obama pedigree” (as Corwin put it) might be a turn-off to Trump’s education team. However, McLaughlin said she thinks it’s safe, since lawmakers recently altered the program when it was reauthorized and changed from i3 to EIR, McLaughlin said. Receives $120 million in the current budget

Career and Technical Education Funding: While Corwin said he’d be surprised if CTE programs got cut in Trump’s budget plan, McLaughlin put it down as a “maybe.” State grants for career and technical education Trump recently complained of vocational education that “We don’t do it anymore.” That view, if it carries over into his budget, might lead him to protect CTE funding. Receives $1.12 billion in in state grants in the current budget

And then there’s Title IV in ESA, a new block grant program that consolidates many programs under the No Child Left Behind Act, which ESSA replaced. Will it get all, some, or not much of the $1.6 billion ESSA authorizes for it?