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Federal Flash: House Democrats Reject Trump’s Cuts to Education Funding

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May 10, 2019 03:30 pm

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Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee passed legislation to boost funding for the U.S. Department of Education. This Federal Flash covers the total funding increase, plus details on which education programs received an increase.

Why does Betsy DeVos want to cut literacy programs that work? This question was posed by Representative Josh Harder this week in Newsweek. And while we couldn’t tell you why Secretary DeVos would propose this cut, we can tell you that the House of Representatives rejected it.

Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee passed legislation to fund the US Department of Education for the next fiscal year on a party-line vote. Overall, it would provide $75.9 billion for the Department – nearly $14 billion more than requested by President Trump, who had proposed to cut its budget by 12 percent. Instead, House Democrats increased the Department’s budget by 6.2 percent, $4.4 billion more than it received last year.

Instead of the flat funding proposed in the President’s budget, Title I, the largest source of federal funding for K-12 students from low-income families, and special education would each get a $1 billion increase in the House bill, for a total of $16.9 billion and $14.3 billion, respectively.

President Trump had also proposed to eliminate Title II grants supporting professional development for educators and Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants. House Democrats, however, rejected those cuts, with Title II funded at $2.6 billion, an increase of $500 million, and Title IV at $1.3 billion, an increase of $150 million.

As for the literacy program Representative Harder asked about…rather than cutting Comprehensive Literacy Development grants, the House provided the program with a $5 million increase, for a total of $195 million.

But there was one noteworthy cut in the House Democrats’ bill. Funding for charter schools was reduced by $40 million, a 10 percent cut – which many see as a signal of growing opposition to charter schools among Democrats.

In addition to funding, the legislation also includes several policy directives. Notably it directs Secretary DeVos to issue guidance clarifying that Title IV funds cannot be used to purchase guns or for gun training. And it directs the Department to use $170 million for social-emotional learning grants.

It’s important to remember that these dollar figures and directives are proposed by the House appropriations committee. They’ll need to pass the full House and be reconciled with the Senate, which has not yet released a spending bill. Reaching consensus will be difficult as there is no agreement between the House and Senate, or between Democrats and Republicans, on how much should be spent this year by the federal government. So, we’re at the beginning of what is sure to be a long and contentious process.

65th Anniversary of Brown vs. Board

This month marks the 65th anniversary of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Last week, the House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on the state of education since Brown.  Committee Chairman Bobby Scott said: “After four decades without federal support for desegregation, we are right back where we started.”  He cited data from the Government Accountability Office showing that the number of schools where at least three-quarters of students are both low-income and African American or Latino increased from 9 percent of public schools in 2000, to 16 percent in 2013.

To commemorate the anniversary, we are launching a year-long campaign to ensure the nation pays attention to the unfulfilled promise of the Brown decision. In announcing the campaign, All4Ed President Deb Delisle said: “On May 17, public officials will issue statements and organizations will hold events to recognize Brown’s 65th anniversary. But one-day events are not enough for the students who attend schools with leaky roofs, no heat, and not enough desks for every child.”

Beginning on May 17 and continuing every month for a year, All4Ed will share an issue and supplemental materials related to the unfulfilled promise of Brown vs. Board. Join us at all4ed.org/brownvboard or #OurChallengeOurHope.

This blog post represents a slightly edited transcript of the May 10 episode of Federal Flash, the Alliance for Excellent Education’s five-minute (or less!) video series on important developments in education policy in Washington, DC. The video version is embedded below. For an alert when the next episode of Federal Flash is available, email at alliance@all4ed.org.

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