Trump’s budget by the numbers: What gets cut and why – CNN.com

Updated 3:58 PM ET, Tue May 23, 2017

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(CNN)President Donald Trump’s team released its first full budget proposal on Tuesday, and while lawmakers are likely to dismiss most of it — as they traditionally do with most White House wishlists — the document provides fresh insight into the administration’s priorities.

Wildlife Society honors Jim Evans with Lifetime Achievement Award

When CSCC alum Jim Evans enrolled at Cleveland State Community College years ago, he didn’t realize that would be the first step to a productive career in wildlife resources. Fast forward a few decades, and Evans is the recent winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tennessee Chapter of the Wildlife Society.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon a wildlife professional for outstanding contributions to their field within the state of Tennessee over the course of their career. Awardees may be practitioners in research, education, management, conservation, law enforcement or legislation, but must have demonstrated excellence in their field related to wildlife in the state of Tennessee over the course of their career.

“I would recommend CSCC to anyone, particularly if you are undecided about a career choice, but if you have a passion for hunting, fishing or any kind of wildlife resources, CSCC is a great place to start. You can get your fundamentals, your gen ed (general education) classes at the same time you are getting involved with Robert Brewer and CSCC’s Wildlife Society.”

“Jim was always willing to give students a chance to experience hands-on learning on various hunts at Oak Ridge Wildlife Management Area,” stated Robert Brewer, associate professor of biology/wildlife society advisor. “He began his college career at Cleveland State long before we had a wildlife program, and was very willing to allow CSCC students to work various hunts at Oak Ridge WMA when we did start a program. He also spent many days teaching the animal damage control segment of our Introduction to Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries course. Jim was truly an asset to the TWRA and to the students he helped over the years.”

For over three decades, Jim Evans managed the Oak Ridge Wildlife Management Area while working for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. After a successful 38-year career with TWRA, he retired in 2016 and began full time trapping work at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. His work at Y-12 is of national importance. He has made numerous scientific contributions during his tenure, which can be found in journal articles, reports and other documents on a range of topics from songbirds to deer-vehicle collisions. He has conducted Partners in Flight breeding bird surveys on the ORR site since their inception in 1995, and in 2014, Evans co-wrote an 80-page technical manuscript documenting a rare species of birds ever known to have occurred on the ORR. In 2015, his work on early succession habitat for migratory birds garnered a winning final-four submittal put forth by the U.S. DOE for the Presidential Migratory Bird Award.

Despite his many academic achievements, Evans said the most rewarding part of his career was meeting his wife, Margaret Murray-Evans.

“My career has been very interesting and a lot of fun,” said Evans. “But, more importantly, I was able to meet my wife in this profession. Her family hunted and fished. It takes a lot to be married to someone in this profession. You can sometimes have very odd hours and odd schedules, working nights, weekends and holidays, but my wife and my daughter, Erin, and our families have been very supportive.”

Evans said other than mandatory meetings and trainings, FWF professionals are able to make their own schedule.

“If you are doing your job right, nobody says anything. I know officers with TWRA that have started projects like hunting and fishing clubs and other projects in school systems on their own initiative. The TWRA will not stand in your way if this is something you want to do. I remember asking my supervisor if I could do something one time, and he said, ‘Of course you can. My problem is getting people to work; I’m not going to stand in the way of people who want to do it. Just do it.”’

Looking back on his career, Evans can’t help but think of the strange animals that people have tried to keep as pets. From, snakes to lions and even alligators, he has had to deal with them all.

“I have had to go deal with issues like that. Every law enforcement officer has had those kinds of stories. I had a call one time that a guy was keeping a cobra inside his house. He called to ask if I knew of a veterinarian who could remove the snake’s poison glands. When people want to keep these weird animals as pets — I just find that so bizarre.”

Because of the significant growth in the Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries program, the college has chosen to add a new faculty member to this program that will allow more course offerings. The FWF program is a transfer program that allows students the opportunity to work with professionals from several state, federal, and private entities during their first two years of college. During their time in this program, students will be able to explore the variety of jobs associated with the Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries field.

CSCC is the only two-year school in Tennessee with a student chapter of The Wildlife Society. Membership in this student chapter allows students to meet with and compete against senior institutions. It also allows students to meet with and discuss their future with advisors from senior institutions.

The college’s Wildlife Society just returned from a Student Wildlands Adventure Program that allowed students to go to New Mexico. This is one of the programs run through the new Greg A. Vital Center for Natural Resources and Conservation, the first named academic program at the college.

For more information on CSCC’s FWF programs or the CSCC Wildlife Society, contact Brewer at 423-473-2342 or by email at rbrewer@clevelandstatecc.edu.

CSCC’s Wildlife Society during a recent trip to New Mexico with the Student Wildlands Adventure Program.

MVCC awarded $257500 per year in federal grant

Mohawk Valley Community College is one of 26 schools across the state to share in more than in $9 million federal education grants, U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced Thursday.

The money is for the college-readiness Upward Bound program, a federally-funded educational opportunity outreach program that promotes and supports students from low-income families. Upward Bound works with Proctor High School students in Utica through a campus-based program that provides tutoring and instruction in literature, composition, mathematics, science and foreign language during the academic year and summer months. 

This grant will serve 60 Proctor students in grades 9 to 12. MVCC receives $257,500 a year. The award is for five years, according to Alen Smajic, MVCC spokesman.

My View: Adequate school funding would benefit students with special needs

Serving as a special education administrator in Boone and Winnebago counties for the past nine years has allowed me numerous opportunities to see the direct, negative impact of the inadequate public school funding system, specifically for students with special needs and their families.

With more dollars, more students with disabilities would have the opportunity for inclusion and its many social and emotional benefits. Too many students with disabilities are left out of the current system and do not have the chance to interact and learn from their general education peers. School districts across the state are limited in their ability to adequately serve all students.

Illinois ranks 49th in the nation for funding adequacy and 50th for funding equity, according to The Education Trust. The Illinois General Assembly is currently reviewing proposals that address the way public schools in Illinois are funded. These bills detail the Evidence Based Model that I feel is a refreshing and honoring approach to addressing the current inadequate and inequitable school funding structure.

The Evidence Based Model would specifically enrich the education of students with special needs by including guidelines that would support more school psychologists, guidance counselors, and school social workers at the district level.

Students with special needs would clearly benefit from having a richer level of support in these areas, and general education students would also have greater access to services in the area of academic, social and emotional supports.

Other key provisions include the addition of instructional coaches that would support teachers and provide timely feedback to improve student learning within all classrooms. A significant majority of students with special needs receive services within the general education setting, and the addition of instructional coaches would support teachers to provide direct, meaningful supports to all students they engage with. The Evidence Based Model also includes provisions for reasonable class size, which is a vital component that impacts the learning environment for all children.

Public concern relating to the Evidence Based Model for public education has focused on the potential reduction of direct funding for students with disabilities. As a leader in the state’s largest special education administrator organization, we have worked with the sponsors of the bills and our coalition partners to make sure that no school district will receive less funds.

On the contrary, the model outlines the need for new revenue which would be necessary in order to achieve the goals of equity and adequacy. It is important to emphasize that changing the current funding system doesn’t change the requirements to meet the needs outlined in a student’s Individualized Educational Plan. The federal and state regulations require specific compliance regarding the provision of specialized services and supports, and each district is mandated to maintain the same or greater levels of funding for special education from year to year, regardless of the specific funding model in place.

The Evidence Based Model equips districts and cooperatives with the resources to provide an outstanding educational experience for all learners in public schools in Illinois. Please join me in contacting our elected officials to encourage them to do the right thing for all students and educators, and finally pass legislation to fix the broken school funding system in Illinois.

Kimberly Moore, Ed.S., is executive director of the Winnebago County Special Education Cooperative, and an Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education board member.

Trump’s budget slashes education but cites one CT program as a …

CtMirror.org

A sign for a school-choice fair outside a school in Hartford

President Donald Trump unveiled a budget Tuesday that slashes federal funding for education by 13.5 percent – cuts that probably would handicap or kill several programs that thousands of Connecticut children participate in each year.

He also is proposing a massive increase for school choice, citing Connecticut’s “Open Choice” program, which provides funding for Hartford residents to attend suburban schools, as a national model.

The Republican president also proposes level funding for the two major education grants that the state and Connecticut districts receive from the federal government.

Here are four things to know about what the Trump budget could mean to you:

School choice may increase

Students in Connecticut have lots of choices for which school to attend. One in eight students this school year attend a magnet, charter, vocational or other school of choice.

But thousands of students remain in struggling, low-performing schools.

The availability of school choice options can largely be attributed to the state’s Supreme Court, which ordered the legislature in 1996 to eliminate the inequalities created by segregation of Hartford’s black and Hispanic students.

The order spurred creation of a large number of new magnet schools as the state’s chief strategy to get suburban, white students to attend school with city students.

But recently the legislature and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy have balked at opening additional regional themed magnet schools. Instead, they say, the state should focus its time and funding on the troubled schools students already attend.

The state also has offered suburban districts – many of which have rapidly declining school-aged populations – financial incentives to offer more seats to city students through the “Open Choice” program that Trump cites as one of three models in his budget. But most suburban communities have not done so, saying the state wasn’t offering enough funding.

Trump hopes a new $1 billion competitive grant called FOCUS – Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success – will spur a drastic expansion of school choice options across the U.S.

So would a large federal grant be enough to lure Connecticut’s districts or the state to step up?

Robert Rader, the executive director of the Connecticut Assocation of Boards of Education, doesn’t think so.

“I have seen and heard no desire for more school choice from our members at this point. They are struggling just to keep what they have in their schools,” he said during an interview, pointing out several federal unfunded mandates that already exist. “They should stop trying to make promises before they fund the ones they have already made.”

And state residents should not count on the administration of the Democratic governor to embrace Trump’s approach to funding expansion of school choice.

“We do have concerns about the potential diversion of funds that pay for the educational needs of students living in poverty going instead to fund new school choice programming,” said Abbe Smith, a spokesman for the State Department of Education.

“Connecticut has maintained a commitment to providing students and families with a diverse public school choice landscape that includes traditional public schools, magnets, and charters. We continue to review the president’s budget proposal, but are greatly concerned by deep cuts to education programs,” said Meg Green, a spokesman for the governor.

Cuts aplenty elsewhere

Trump’s budget proposal leaves untouched the second-largest source of federal education money for Connecticut’s schools, the so-called Title I grant, which provides schools in the state with about $120 million annually. However, the proposal would eliminate or drastically cut funding for several other programs geared toward improving educational outcomes for students from low-income families.

Trump proposes eliminating the $9 million the state receives each year for before- and after-school programs and summer programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant. These grants, which run between $25,000 and $200,000 a year, help pay for programs in Bridgeport, Hartford, Waterbury and numerous other communities. (See here for which communities.)

CtMirror.org file photo

A high school in Bridgeport (CT Mirror file photo)

The $2.1 billion in federal funding that currently goes to class-size reduction and teacher development efforts would be eliminated, making it the largest cut in the budget proposal for primary and secondary schools. Connecticut and its local districts receive about $25 million each year through these grants. Bridgeport, one of the state’s lowest-performing districts, has received $2 million so far this fiscal year from this grant. Hartford has received $2.9 million. (See town-by-town grants here.)

A $50 million school safety grant created in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown would be scaled back to $18 million. That grant goes to help states and experts research approaches to reducing violence in schools and referrals to juvenile courts. Researchers at the University of Connecticut for the last several years have used this grant to look at the role of school-based police.

During a conference call with reporters, federal education officials said it would be up to state or local governments whether to make up for the cuts to various programs.

Funding for Head Start, which provides early child care and education for thousands of low-income children in Connecticut, would increase nationwide by about $80 million next year.

Federal aid for school lunches would increase from $12.3 billion to $13 billion, and funding for school breakfast would increase from $4.5 billion to $4.8 billion.

Special education funding static

Federal funding would remain essentially the same for special education, the largest federal funding resource for Connecticut’s schools. Connecticut and local districts received just under $130 million in funding for special education last fiscal year.

Given that special education costs are the fastest-growing expense in Connecticut school districts, flat federal funding probably would result in general education cuts in many districts because federal law forbids cutting spending on programs for physically and intellectually disabled students. Just under 10 percent of spending on special education currently comes from federal funding.

Funding for higher education slashed

The president’s budget would eliminate subsidized Stafford student loans. The federal government has paid the interest on these loans while students are in school. Last fiscal year students attending college in Connecticut received $203 million in subsidized loans.

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas / CtMirror.org

University of Connecticut graduates

The budget also would eliminate the student loan forgiveness program, which was designed to clear student debt for those who work for 10 years in teaching or other professions deemed to be in the public interest. The program was created in 2007, and nationwide more than 500,000 people are on track to have their loans forgiven, starting in October.

Federal education officials said only those who take out loans after July 1, 2018, would be affected by elimination of the loan-forgiveness program and subsidized federal loans.

Trump proposes making huge cuts in funding for federal research, which many of the state’s public and private college rely on. Most notably, he proposes a 20 percent reduction to the National Institutes of Health “to improve efficiencies in the research enterprise” by reducing the burden of regulation on recipients. Funding for research awards through the National Science Foundation would be cut by 11 percent.

Council Bluffs high school students work at in-house coffee shop … – Omaha World

COUNCIL BLUFFS — Students at Thomas Jefferson High School are gaining real-world experience this year by working at the school’s new in-house coffee shop.

Buzz’s Coffee Brew opened in March after Stephanie Ryan, project director and special education department chairwoman, submitted a classroom grant application to the Council Bluffs Community Education Foundation.

Where most people might see caffeine in a steaming cup of joe, Ryan saw an opportunity. She envisioned a space where students with disabilities could work alongside general education students to learn entry-level job skills.

“I wanted students to be able to work in a diverse learning environment while communicating with various students,” Ryan said.

After Ryan was awarded a $932 grant to open the coffee shop, she recruited student Ruby Morales to help her plan a menu and order supplies. Today, shop visitors can order a number of different items from the menu, including basic black coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate, hot tea, lattes and iced coffee.

“Now that we have everything up and running and have the recipes down, the students know how to make everything and they all know what to do,” Ryan said.

In the shop, Morales works as part of a team to learn valuable skills, including taking orders, setting goals, managing time and communicating effectively.

Morales, a senior, is one of five students working in the shop this trimester. Seniors McGwire Midkiff and Glenn Walker and juniors Abbi Woodward and Scott Foote also work in the shop.

“We have a variety of different needs and level of students that work in the shop, and I did that on purpose,” Ryan said. “I handpicked students for the coffee shop, and we’ve had a great experience with the students that are involved.”

Morales said she loves working in the coffee shop because it’s a lot of fun and she gets to talk to people she wouldn’t normally see during the school day.

“I loved the idea and everything about it,” Morales said. “I love to talk to the students and see them grow and learning skills they probably wouldn’t have gotten outside of this cafe.”

Midkiff is the shop’s student manager. Working in the shop has allowed him to develop management skills and has even led him to consider a career in education, he said.

“I’ve gotten to know the kids really well,” Midkiff said. “I’ve learned how to communicate and how to lead without coming off as rude, and learning from Ms. Ryan has been a major takeaway for me.”

Ryan said she plans to continue the project through next year, when a whole new cohort of students will get the opportunity to work in the shop.

“This has been my dream team,” Ryan said. “We have lot of fun.”

Trump K-12 Priorities on Full Display in 2018 Budget Pitch

Big boost sought for school choice amid deep cuts to other programs

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President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education made plenty of waves for its emphasis on school choice and its cuts to long-standing programs—but Congress has no obligation to go along with the plan, and there hasn’t been a show of overwhelming support for either idea on Capitol Hill just yet.

The fiscal 2018 proposal from the Trump administration emphasizes the commitment to choice and austerity, despite the political sensitivities involved.

It would cut $9.2 billion, or 13.5 percent, from the Education Department’s budget, bringing it down to $59 billion. It would launch a new $1 billion grant program for public school choice under Title I; increase charter school funding by about 50 percent, to $500 million; and create a $250 million grant program in the Education Innovation and Research program to fund private school vouchers and research their effects.

The $250 million grant program would be enough to provide 17,500 to 26,000 vouchers to private schools, including religious ones, in the range of $8,000 to $12,000 per student. However, a spokeswoman for the department denied that the new $250 million program would constitute a federal voucher program, arguing instead that the department would be supporting states that applied for the grants to expand school choice.

Meanwhile, $2 billion in grants for teacher development and class-size reduction under Title II would be eliminated in Trump’s budget, along with $1.2 billion in after-school and summer programs, and $400 million for a new block grant under Title IV of the federal education law for programs for student health, education technology, and other issues. Title I and special education funding would also get cut by roughly 4 and 1 percent, respectively, from fiscal 2017 levels.

Divergent Views

Lawmakers in charge of the department’s budget shared divergent views about the Trump spending proposals during a House hearing last week, where U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos defended the budget. It was her first public appearance on Capitol Hill since her contentious confirmation hearing.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the department, praised the blueprint for promoting educational opportunities in general. But he didn’t discuss the Title I choice fund or the voucher proposal, and after the hearing stressed he wasn’t ready to pick “winners and losers” in the education budget yet.

“I’m a big fan of charter schools,” Cole said, when asked about distinctions he was making between charters and vouchers in the budget. And he questioned the proposal’s cuts to GEAR UP and TRIO, two programs that help disadvantaged students reach postsecondary education.

Meanwhile, Democrats hammered DeVos over the various cuts, and also sparred with the secretary about whether she would allow a federal voucher program to fund private schools that discriminate against students, including LGBT children and African-American students. DeVos emphasized state prerogatives and parent choice in her answers, but in a later statement also emphasized that schools participating in the new $250 million voucher research program would have to follow federal law.

“I’m shocked that you cannot come up with one example of discrimination [where] you would stand up for students,” Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., told DeVos during the discussion of vouchers.

Despite the administration’s proposed cuts to several programs, it’s likely that Title I, Title II, and the Title IV block grant will be funded at roughly the same levels they are now, said David DeSchryver, the senior vice president at Whiteboard Advisors, a research and advocacy firm. The Title I choice program would require a politically difficult change in federal law, he noted. And the $250 million voucher research program might be too small to justify politically, DeSchryver added.

“This puts a lot on the congressional plate, and I don’t think they’re ready to navigate yet how all this will work,” DeSchryver said.

Trump’s budget plan represents the biggest single-year overall proposed cut to the department since President Ronald Reagan’s budget pitch for fiscal 1983. Congress ultimately increased the department’s budget for that year.

In her testimony to House lawmakers, DeVos repeatedly stressed that the budget makes tough choices and puts what she called appropriate new limits on the federal government’s involvement in education. And she said that giving more power to parents and students, along with states and local communities, is long overdue.

“Instead, we spend a lot of time talking about schools and systems,” DeVos said.

She also said that despite the cuts, the Every Student Succeeds Act (the federal education law that kicks in for the 2017-18 school year) and other changes in the budget proposal would allow schools to be more flexible and to better serve students. But Democrats countered that any such flexibility was dwarfed by the range of proposed cuts.

On the Chopping Block

The budget would phase out or eliminate a total of 22 programs.

DeSchryver said Comprehensive Literacy Development Grants, which currently get $190 million but would be eliminated in Trump’s budget, are in serious jeopardy.

Outside of the Education Department, the budget plan proposes an $85 million cut to Head Start, which is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. There would also be cuts to the National Center for Child Health and Human Development of $1 billion, as well as a reduction for the Children’s Health Insurance Program of $5.8 billion over 10 years.

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Several school advocacy groups swiftly condemned the budget proposal. The Council of Chief State School Officers said the “cuts to key federal education programs” were “unacceptable.” And the National School Boards Association called the proposed cuts a “devastating blow” that would be compounded by the budget’s attempt to create “a second system of taxpayer-funded education” outside of traditional public schools.

A few school choice advocates were also wary of the choice proposals in the budget. For example, Lindsey Burke, the director of the Center for Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation, which favors limited government, said that the federal government should not be involved in running school choice, even as she praised the overall reduction in the Education Department’s budget.

“The Trump administration has outlined a budget that rightly downsizes spending and program count at the Department of Education—a long overdue step that can pave the way for a restoration of state and local control of education,” Burke said.

Vol. 36, Issue 33, Pages 1, 19

Published in Print: May 31, 2017, as Trump Priorities On Full Display In K-12 Budget

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What Trump’s education budget proposal means for students and …

President Donald Trump’s education budget could chop $9.2 billion from programs that promote early learning, arts education, college work-study, and access to federal education grants and loans, pending congressional approval.

The proposed legislation aims to increase school choice by expanding charter school and voucher funding by $400 million and pours $1 billion into an incentive grant program for school districts that allow school choice – a priority investment in a plan championed by President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The budget proposal, which was released May 23 and would result in a 13.5% decrease in Department of Education funding, was first reported by The Washington Post.

But with cuts to federal financial aid programs like the Perkins loans and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), federal work-study, and after-school care, many feel as if the new budget is anything but an investment in the future.

“This budget is grossly out of step with the needs of young people and the priorities of most members of Congress,” says Reid Setzer, director of government affairs for the nationwide young adult education and advocacy group, Young Invincibles. “It fails to invest in young people and the future of our country by slashing opportunities for young adults to gain skills through education, sustain themselves and their families, and contribute to our workforce.”

The end of Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

While the budget is expected to be revised as it moves through Congress, the suggested cuts and restructured student loan repayment plans are frightening to low-income families and students who have planned their economic and educational futures on government assistance.

Take the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, for example: After 10 years of monthly payments while working in public service or for a nonprofit, remaining student debt will disappear. The proposed budget would end the program, cutting $859 million.

Fortunately, borrowers who are already enrolled in PSLF will be grandfathered in, meaning they will still be eligible for loan forgiveness even after the program ends. The changes would apply to loans that originated after July 1, 2018.

Amanda Aubrey, a staff attorney at Legal Action of Wisconsin, is relying on the government-promised freedom from thousands of dollars of debt. Aubrey, 38, says she planned her career around eligibility and calls the sudden uncertainty of that relief the “bait-and-switch of a lifetime.” She graduated from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in 2013.

“Without it, it’s unlikely I will ever be able to own my own home, or even discharge more than half the debt on my own,” says Aubrey. “My retirement will likely get pushed back until I’m 75, because the money I might otherwise have saved would have been required for loan repayment.”

While he recognizes that the Trump administration has suggested a system of grandfathering for current PSLF enrollees, Setzer says it’s not guaranteed, and even if it was, the incentive for individuals seeking public servant jobs could vanish with the dismantling of the program.

Aubrey says the potential diminishing number of public servants also could mean an alarming lack of services for those who need them most.

“Having the PSLF as an option made it possible to follow the path I wanted to follow, rather than having to pursue a path that would make enough money to pay back the loans,” Aubrey says. “Low-income clients desperately need legal representation, and low-paying jobs for attorneys are usually the only prayer such clients have at getting the help they need. Eliminating the PSLF takes away that possibility, for legal, medical, and many other professionals.”

What it means for families

The budget’s impacts could be felt far earlier than college and professional careers. Government-funded after-school care is in jeopardy in the proposed budget.

The plan proposes cutting $1.2 billion from government-funded after-school and summer programs.

“(Lack of after-school care) would put a strain on the family, as far as the wife and myself having to rush home to make sure the kids are taken care of,” says Robert Chatmon, a father of three in Athens, Ga. “If they’re at after-school, you have trained people who are there that are willing to look after them, take care of them – give them that extra support that they need.”

The fear of losing funding for after-school care looms large, as the budget’s targeted programs primarily assist poor families.

“You end up hurting people who depend on the very program you’re cutting,” Chatmon says.

What programs are being cut

Here are some key suggested cuts in the proposed education budget:

●     $2.3 billion from programs that provide teacher training and class-size reduction

●     $1.2 billion from government-funded after-school and summer programs

●     $1 billion from federal loans for disadvantaged students, including Perkins loans

●     $490 million – 50% – from federal work-study programs

In addition, no money would be allocated for certain grants that help to fund mental health services, anti-bullying campaigns, advanced placement, and physical education courses.

What’s next

The president’s May 23 budget proposal is one step of five in signing the budget for the next fiscal year – beginning Oct. 1 – into law.

The next step – congressional review and resolution – requires the House and Senate budget committees to decide and vote on spending limits for the overall budget.

Then the appropriations committees in the House and Senate will allocate exact funding for all discretionary programs.

The House and Senate will then debate and vote on the changes made to funding requests for each of the appropriations committees.

The president must then sign into law each of the 12 appropriation bills in the 2018 budget as they are approved by Congress.

While the Trump administration has requested large and far-reaching cuts to federal education spending, the specific dollar amounts are likely to change, and it is possible that some of the proposed reductions and expansions will not pass through Congress by the October deadline. 

MagnifyMoney is a price comparison and financial education website, founded by former bankers who use their knowledge of how the system works to help you save money.

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Oakland Unified Special Ed Plan in flux after Superintendent leaves …

 

Last May, Oakland Unified School District’s former superintendent Antwan Wilson put forth a master plan to prioritize an inclusion teaching model for its special education students. Inclusion is a teaching strategy in which students with special needs are integrated into general education classrooms, and are taught side by side with their general education peers.

 

Earlier this year, though, the superintendent left for a job in Washington D.C. Since then, the special education department has been in flux. Some parents and teachers are worried the district does not have the resources or the leadership to make inclusion work for everyone.

 

Nsambi Hasan is mother of a fifth grader named Jared who has ADHD and a speech delay. He’s in an inclusion class at Carl B. Munck Elementary, but Hasan said her son is often bullied, and doesn’t keep up with the class. She is worried that the inclusion class isn’t helping.

 

“Jared has his own world, and he wakes up in his own world, but every morning, for two and a half hours before he gets to school, I have to get him ready to get into their world,” she said.

 

The school declined to comment on Jared’s case, but Hasan said she thinks Jared’s problems stem from being left out in class.

 

“They’re still excluded within inclusion,” she said. “They’re always separated. You’ll always see a table up front, or in the back. If you walk into the classroom and see a table, you’ll know that’s where the special needs students sit.”

 

Though Oakland recently renewed its push towards more inclusion classes, inclusion is not a new concept. In the U.S., schools first made attempts at inclusion for students with special needs in the early 1960s. One school in Oakland, Montera Middle School, adopted inclusion strategies a decade ago, but according to school board president James Harris, too many special needs students were mostly in separate classes, not interacting much with their general ed peers.

 

“We have to get in Oakland a throughline in the services we provide,” Harris said.

 

He added that while Oakland had inclusion programs, they were mostly in schools in more affluent neighborhoods, and that former superintendent Wilson wanted inclusion in every Oakland school.

 

One of the schools that began piloting inclusion classes under the new plan was Markham Elementary in East Oakland. It piloted inclusion classes with their third, fourth and fifth graders this past September. In their model, each general education class of about 30 students folds in four to five students with mild or moderate special needs. Employing a co-teaching model, a general education teacher and a special education teacher teach the class together, and then break the class into smaller groups for more personalized attention. The goal is that special education students will be sprinkled into the smaller groups, and that their peers can also help teach them concepts.

 

“They’re able to teach each other, respond to each other,” special education teacher Christell Grace said. She also said it’s been good for general education students as well.

 

“It’s given them compassion and understanding, it’s given them an understanding that I need to embrace what I have and do my best.”

 

The Markham model is just one example of how inclusion can be done. At other schools, classes have one or two teachers plus individual aides for special ed students. Fifteen schools received professional development this school year, and the district says inclusion’s happening at all of them, but other teachers, like Sayuri Sakamoto at Bret Harte Middle school, say there are problems with implementation.

 

“Forty-three percent of this particular class was special education students,” Sakamoto said of one class that was supposed to be piloting inclusion. “Are the students succeeding in their classes? Yes. But could we have done things differently? Yes.”

 

Natalia Stark, a special education teacher at Oakland International High School, said that her inclusion classes also often have high numbers of special education students, which distorts the idea behind inclusion.

 

“So that changes the dynamic of the cohort in a way that is very difficult to manage,” Stark said. “As time goes on, if more and more students qualify…then it becomes more difficult to have heterogeneous grouping in the classes and to have students with a variety of skill levels that can teach and tutor each other.”

 

Sakamoto added that it’s also been difficult having the superintendent who championed inclusion leave while it’s being piloted.

 

“If there’s nobody leading us and providing this continuity and  these supports… teachers do quit, teachers don’t stay, teachers feel overwhelmed,” she said.

 

With an interim superintendent currently in place and continued turnover within the special education department, Sakamoto said students often pay the price.

 

“The lack of stability and leadership…it’s exhausting mentally,” she said. “So when there’s not someone who is firmly planted and firmly rooted…that absolutely affects our students and their learning.”

 

One of the district’s biggest partners, Teach for America, is also watching how inclusion will roll out. For the last 20 years, Teach for America’s filled about a third of the special education vacancies, about 20-30 teachers for the approximately 60 special education vacancies that happen yearly.  Now, director Tracy Session says they’re “hitting the pause button,” not assigning any new special education teachers until the inclusion plan is more clear.

 

“We think it’s a great idea, we believe that that should be our aspiration,” Session said about inclusion. “At the same time, our teachers were telling us that they had questions around what it would look like around implementation.”

 

He adds that he knows Teach for America’s absence will make an impact on special education staffing, but that they decided it was the best move in the long run. They hope to begin assigning new special education teachers to the district in the fall of 2019.

 

“We actually need to make sure we get it right because it’s what our students deserve, it’s what our families deserve, it’s what our teachers deserve quite frankly,” he said.

 

Aside from the staffing concerns, school board member James Harris said that one of the other barriers to achieving full inclusion is the price tag. He estimates the most ideal model would cost about 10 million dollars, but with a budget deficit, and a special education department that’s run 7 million dollars over budget in the past two years, Harris isn’t sure where that kind of money would come from.

 

“We’re trying to do this with a lot less money than New York or New Jersey, and it’s incredibly difficult,” he said.

 

One idea he proposes is cutting costs by moving services like speech therapy and testing into the district’s special education department, away from private contractors. Neena Bawa, OUSD’s director of schools for special education, said the district needs to better utilize teachers and resources that they already have.  
 

“We work with schools individually to look at their current staffing, what their students are, and develop a model around that, what is it going to look like in terms of needing extra support, or are we going to be able to use the current staff to support the needs of the students,” Bawa said.

 

Parent Lisa Rasler has a daughter, Clio, with Down Syndrome. Clio is currently a junior at Oakland Tech and has been in inclusion since Kindergarten.

 

“Clio has really thrived being in a diverse group of kids, really fully part of the community,” Rasler said. “It’s been in many ways a very good experience.”

 

But she said she was worried about things as the district moved toward full implementation of inclusion. She thinks inclusion on that scale will require more money than the district has. She speculates that the push for inclusion could be a way to trim the special education budget.

 

“I think that in some way there’s an idea in the district that universalizing inclusion will be cheaper, and I think that it is not necessarily cheaper at all,” Rasler said. “There are a lot of attending services that need to be provided in order for inclusion to be a really successful model.”

 

Teacher Natalia Stark was also skeptical of the district’s plans.

 

“One of the major barriers is, in order to have a successful inclusion program, it will actually cost a lot more money,” she said, “because it requires additional preparation time, and collaboration time…and additional training and additional resources.”


Nonetheless, the district plans to continue implementing district-wide inclusion, with 15 new schools piloting inclusion classes in the coming year. The end goal is that every school in Oakland will offer inclusion services within the next two years.

 

 

What Trump’s education budget proposal means for students and their families

President Donald Trump’s education budget could chop $9.2 billion from programs that promote early learning, arts education, college work-study, and access to federal education grants and loans, pending congressional approval.

The proposed legislation aims to increase school choice by expanding charter school and voucher funding by $400 million and pours $1 billion into an incentive grant program for school districts that allow school choice – a priority investment in a plan championed by President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The budget proposal, which was released May 23 and would result in a 13.5% decrease in Department of Education funding, was first reported by The Washington Post.

But with cuts to federal financial aid programs like the Perkins loans and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), federal work-study, and after-school care, many feel as if the new budget is anything but an investment in the future.

“This budget is grossly out of step with the needs of young people and the priorities of most members of Congress,” says Reid Setzer, director of government affairs for the nationwide young adult education and advocacy group, Young Invincibles. “It fails to invest in young people and the future of our country by slashing opportunities for young adults to gain skills through education, sustain themselves and their families, and contribute to our workforce.”

The end of Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

While the budget is expected to be revised as it moves through Congress, the suggested cuts and restructured student loan repayment plans are frightening to low-income families and students who have planned their economic and educational futures on government assistance.

Take the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, for example: After 10 years of monthly payments while working in public service or for a nonprofit, remaining student debt will disappear. The proposed budget would end the program, cutting $859 million.

Fortunately, borrowers who are already enrolled in PSLF will be grandfathered in, meaning they will still be eligible for loan forgiveness even after the program ends. The changes would apply to loans that originated after July 1, 2018.

Amanda Aubrey, a staff attorney at Legal Action of Wisconsin, is relying on the government-promised freedom from thousands of dollars of debt. Aubrey, 38, says she planned her career around eligibility and calls the sudden uncertainty of that relief the “bait-and-switch of a lifetime.” She graduated from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law in 2013.

“Without it, it’s unlikely I will ever be able to own my own home, or even discharge more than half the debt on my own,” says Aubrey. “My retirement will likely get pushed back until I’m 75, because the money I might otherwise have saved would have been required for loan repayment.”

While he recognizes that the Trump administration has suggested a system of grandfathering for current PSLF enrollees, Setzer says it’s not guaranteed, and even if it was, the incentive for individuals seeking public servant jobs could vanish with the dismantling of the program.

Aubrey says the potential diminishing number of public servants also could mean an alarming lack of services for those who need them most.

“Having the PSLF as an option made it possible to follow the path I wanted to follow, rather than having to pursue a path that would make enough money to pay back the loans,” Aubrey says. “Low-income clients desperately need legal representation, and low-paying jobs for attorneys are usually the only prayer such clients have at getting the help they need. Eliminating the PSLF takes away that possibility, for legal, medical, and many other professionals.”

What it means for families

The budget’s impacts could be felt far earlier than college and professional careers. Government-funded after-school care is in jeopardy in the proposed budget.

The plan proposes cutting $1.2 billion from government-funded after-school and summer programs.

“(Lack of after-school care) would put a strain on the family, as far as the wife and myself having to rush home to make sure the kids are taken care of,” says Robert Chatmon, a father of three in Athens, Ga. “If they’re at after-school, you have trained people who are there that are willing to look after them, take care of them – give them that extra support that they need.”

The fear of losing funding for after-school care looms large, as the budget’s targeted programs primarily assist poor families.

“You end up hurting people who depend on the very program you’re cutting,” Chatmon says.

What programs are being cut

Here are some key suggested cuts in the proposed education budget:

●     $2.3 billion from programs that provide teacher training and class-size reduction

●     $1.2 billion from government-funded after-school and summer programs

●     $1 billion from federal loans for disadvantaged students, including Perkins loans

●     $490 million – 50% – from federal work-study programs

In addition, no money would be allocated for certain grants that help to fund mental health services, anti-bullying campaigns, advanced placement, and physical education courses.

What’s next

The president’s May 23 budget proposal is one step of five in signing the budget for the next fiscal year – beginning Oct. 1 – into law.

The next step – congressional review and resolution – requires the House and Senate budget committees to decide and vote on spending limits for the overall budget.

Then the appropriations committees in the House and Senate will allocate exact funding for all discretionary programs.

The House and Senate will then debate and vote on the changes made to funding requests for each of the appropriations committees.

The president must then sign into law each of the 12 appropriation bills in the 2018 budget as they are approved by Congress.

While the Trump administration has requested large and far-reaching cuts to federal education spending, the specific dollar amounts are likely to change, and it is possible that some of the proposed reductions and expansions will not pass through Congress by the October deadline. 

MagnifyMoney is a price comparison and financial education website, founded by former bankers who use their knowledge of how the system works to help you save money.

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