President’s budget advances Trump-DeVos agenda to starve, privatize public schools

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by Amanda Litvinov

The Trump administration’s FY 2018 budget proposal, released this morning, slashes funding for the Department of Education by a whopping 13.5 percent, sacrificing critical, long-standing education programs in order to fund the privatization agenda promoted by the president and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos under the banner of “school choice.”

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Trump’s budget blueprint manages to give a $1.4 billion boost to voucher and charter school schemes even as it rolls back education spending to pre-2002 levels in today’s dollars, excluding federal Pell Grants. Meanwhile, public schools serve 8.6 million more students today than they did in 2002.

Public school educators—who know these cuts will have a profound negative impact on students and their families—are incensed.

“The priorities Donald Trump outlined in his budget are reckless and wrong for students and families. If enacted, the Trump budget will crush the dreams of students and deprive families of opportunities,” said Lily Eskelsen García, a Utah teacher and president of the National Education Association, which represents 3 million educators across the country.

Eskelsen García continued:

The Trump-DeVos budget would take an ax to important education programs for students, including eliminating after-school programs, and other student enrichment programs. In real life, these cuts mean students are robbed of the tools and supports they need to get ahead.

In all, more than 20 education programs would see a collective $9 billion in cuts, including:

  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers (after-school)
  • Title II, which helps states hire and train teachers
  • TRIO and other college access programs that put higher education into reach for more students
  • The Comprehensive Literacy Development Grant program
  • Impact Aid, which provides funding for schools near federally protected lands that do not generate local tax revenues.

Educators and parents across the country have spoken out against the Trump-DeVos agenda to push unproven voucher programs and undermine charter school accountability, while stripping public schools of the funding they need to serve all students.

“Our public schools should not be dismembered through privatization schemes involving vouchers, charter schools or tax credits,” said Michael Fredette, a teacher from New York who says his own public school education freed him from the cycle of poverty.

I am a registered Republican, but this is one area where the party has gone off course,” Fredette said.

Rather than cutting public education, Fredette would welcome additional federal investment in programs to combat poverty, which has been shown to impede students’ classroom progress.

“We need ESL support in areas with high immigrant populations, clinics that provide basic dental and medical support to our most vulnerable communities, and nutrition programs so that children do not go hungry when they are not in school,” he said.

Linda Frederickson, a teacher from Texas, wants more education funding, with a focus on programs that are working and have helped struggling schools improve.

“Politicians who say they want students to have ‘choice’ are really saying they do not want public funds to support education for all children,” Frederickson said.

“Current research on vouchers and charter schools show they do not do a better job at educating our children, but they take funds away from public schools.”

That will certainly be the case if the Trump-DeVos budget is approved by Congress.

“Trump’s budget also undermines our core values by depleting public education while wasting taxpayer money to implement his discriminatory and hateful anti-immigrant agenda,” said Eskelsen García.

“America and our students deserve better. The purpose of investing in public education is to help level the playing field so that children in every ZIP code receive an adequate and equitable education. Regardless, educators will continue to stand up for all students and for the promise of public education.”

Reader Comments

  1. “That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.” Noam Chomsky

  2. There are many students whose parents are struggling to meet expenses just to send their children to schools that are not indoctrinating their children as many liberal public school teachers are doing. As a former public school teacher I know first hand how this works. I never indoctrinated my students to think one way or another. This has all changed! We need education to remain in the hands of students’ rights above all else. The best education I ever received was in the Parochial High School Academy I attended. We want our children to do better. In states where there is no Right to Work status like in NY and California to name two of them there are Rubber rooms where those who are not good teachers are sent to spend their time until 3pm rolls around. The taxpayers are paying their salaries as well as their health care. Public Schools have to get back to the business of Teaching the truth to their students while not pursuing an agenda to indoctrinate them to the left or right. They are not learning Critical Thinking. Vouchers were given to private schools in Chicago. No one raised any issues with them although they didn’t follow the rules for funding and weren’t held accountable. We have only to look at DC to see that voucher programs were permitted for those who lived in the inner city to attend Sidwell Friends. Unfortunately that was discontinued when the Obama children began to attend. Why not the uproar then when these students who were thriving were forced to attend their local public schools? Look we get it The NEA wants it both ways: Privatization and no privatization of vouchers. Why not give it a chance? After all, we are supposed to be for children and education. That used to be our motto/slogan. Has it changed? Is it not for teachers and no education?

  3. Private schools get to select their students. Just because a person has a voucher does not promise them they can go to the school of their choice. Indiana has had vouchers already and poor black students can forget the idea they can move into a private school in a suburb unless they can dunk a basketball.

  4. Another issue with the voucher program is that low income families won’t be able to take advantage of it anyway. The voucher doesn’t provide full tuition only part leaving them in a failing public school system due to the cutting of funding from the federal level . It doesn’t work . It should not be allowed to happen

  5. How soon can we get this man impeached for incompetence? The Far Right is a group that pushes the idea that the US is a Christian country. The christianity I know, based on scripture, the sayings of Jesus, has a far different approach towards the needy, the most vulnerable, “the widows and orphans” of this world. These are the very ones Trump administration hurts by his budget request, while he pushes for tax relief for the wealthiest, the big corporations, BIG PHARMA, the oil industry, the EPA (Those cuts effect all of us including the environment and all creatures who live in it), but most of all health care, education, and the very food and housing essential to life for those most unable to provide for themselves! I am so disgusted with the GREED that exist in our country today.

  6. I want to know what about special education. I see and hear nothing about special needs students. I want to know how they fall into the private school world. Private schools can pick their students, again where do the students with disabilities fall?

    1. They fall no where. Public schools are mandated (by law) to provide an education for students with disabilities. Private, Voucher, charter etc schools DO NOT— repeat DO NOT have to abide by the law. They DO NOT have to provide ANY special ed services to any student. 🙁

    2. NO CARE FOR DISABLED CHILDREN!!
      They aught to be ashamed! This is heartbreaking! Selfish of them! Everything this supposed president touches is unreasonable & unrealistic! I have a son. In his 40’s. He was bored, he would not pay attention, he would walk out of the class if he wasn’t interested, etc. etc. Often suspended. I worked. Instead of having programs for children like my son, he was sent home. What possible good did that do? I had a football coach tell me that I should not worry so much about education, but let him play sports. He was 16. It was awful. Eventually 2 teachers reached out to him. He fought them every step of the way. They got to him finally! 12th grade & finally 2 teachers cared! Today after years of struggle he is a licensed plumber, going for his electrician’s​ license & a chef! Married with children. He should have been treated better! He should have been respected! Isn’t anyone thinking ahead? I have 7 g-children! Don’t we need/ want future educators? Doctors? Lawyers? The people who build? Politicians? This is fearful & we have a lot to worry about!!!!!

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