As expected, President Donald Trump's budget calls for deep cuts to public education while bolstering school choice schemes, leading top education advocates to decry the plan as out-of-touch and "manifestly cruel to kids."
In line with the leaked document reported on last week by the Washington Post, Trump's budget proposal would eliminate or reduce funding for a number of critical education initiatives, including before- and after-school programs; a work-study program that helps low-income students pay for college; state grants for career and technical education; and teacher training.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) went off on the cuts in a video posted to Twitter on Monday, in which she specifically called out Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. "The big complaint was that this is a woman who does not believe in public education," Warren said, referring to DeVos' confirmation hearings. "Well, she just proved it."
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Amid all these cuts, there is one area that would see a boost in Trump's budget: school choice. "In the White House's spending proposal, hundreds of millions of the dollars would go toward charter-school and voucher initiatives, while another $1 billion in grants would encourage states to adopt school-choice policies," Alia Wong wrote for The Atlantic on Tuesday.
Indeed, DeVos—a former lobbyist for such initiatives—told an audience on Monday night that opponents of school-choice programs are "flat-earthers" who have "chilled creativity."
This is despite the fact that, as American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten noted Tuesday, "the most recent studies, including one on the D.C. voucher program by DeVos' own Education Department, show that vouchers hurt kids."
In a statement, Weingarten highlighted more "hypocrisy" embedded in the budget proposal:
- While Trump and DeVos chose private schools for their kids, with small class sizes, they want to eliminate the federal funding that helps America's public schools lower class sizes.
- While Trump and DeVos can afford whatever their children and grandchildren need or want, and while Ivanka Trump got $19 billion for her parental leave project, the budget completely zeros out all current federal programs that keep millions of poor kids safe and well-fed in after-school and summer programs.
- Trump says there is nothing more important than being a teacher, but he eliminates the loan forgiveness program that helps students pursue teaching careers, eliminates funding for teacher preparation and educator support, and guts most other programs that alleviate student debt or make college more affordable.
- Trump says vocational education is the way of the future yet slashes career and technical education funding.
- DeVos promised not to hurt children with special needs, but the budget cuts one-quarter of the Medicaid funding that now pays for essential school-based services like physical therapists, feeding tubes and other medical equipment, and health screenings.
Bottom line, said National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García, "This budget once again illustrates why the American people have no confidence in Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos when it comes to education. They just don't get it. The priorities President Trump outlined in his budget are reckless and wrong for students and working families. If enacted, the Trump budget will crush the dreams of students, deprive millions of opportunities, and make it harder for students to access higher education."