Education advocates work hard to increase funding for federal education programs to ensure all children receive a quality education. During tough political climates and hard economic times, these education advocates have always been able to at least maintain the current level of funding for education programs at 2% of the federal budget.
However, much of our progress to increase investments in education—or at a minimum maintain current levels of funding for education—have been put at-risk due to the release of President Trump’s “skinny budget” or “blueprint” for funding priorities in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. President Trump’s proposal would cut funding for public education programs by $9.2 billion.
From the information that is available in the skinny budget, National PTA has concerns about the following proposals:
- An overall $9.2 billion cut to program under the U.S. Department of Education (13% cut)
- New $250 million investment to expand private school choice options
- Eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers—also known as afterschool programs
- Eliminate Title II state grants to support effective instruction for teachers, principals and other school leaders
- Eliminate or reduce over 20 programs at the U.S. Department of Education (the full list of programs is not available)
National PTA hopes President Trump’s full budget request (to be released in May) will propose funding for Statewide Family Engagement Centers, Title I, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act state grants, Parent Training and Information Centers and Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants.
It’s important to note that the President’s budget request is simply that—a “request” outlining the President’s funding priorities. It is Congress that determines how much funding each federal agency and program will receive each year.
Members of Congress take the President’s budget request into consideration when they are making funding decisions, but constituent requests for certain programs to receive funding almost always take precedent in appropriations bills.
Here are two steps for PTA advocates to take to ensure that Congress adequately invests in public education programs:
- Take Action and send a letter to your members of Congress requesting for them to invest in public education and Statewide Family Engagement Centers.
- Sign up for National PTA’s Takes Action Newsletter and get the latest information on PTA’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and ways you can get involved.
While National PTA is disappointed that the budget proposal cuts vital funding for public education overall, the association is pleased to see the president maintain funding of $13 billion for special education grants through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
President Trump’s blue print proposes to designate an additional $1 billion for Title I—which aids schools with high percentages of children from low-income families. However, it is still unclear as to how the proposed increase in Title I funding would be used as the skinny budget mentions that the increase in Title I funding would be used to encourage Title I portability, which National PTA would not support.
As PTA advocates, we encourage you and all parents and families to call, meet and email your member of Congress and request them to support robust investments in public education and Statewide Family Engagement Centers and oppose funding for any private school choice or voucher system that would divert funding from public schools.
Joshua Westfall is the Government Affairs Manager at National PTA.