Trump budget would result in loss of hundreds of millions in education dollars to California

Michael Vadon / Flickr

March 16, 2017
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Even as his proposed 2017-18 budget calls for increasing funding for “school choice” programs, President Donald Trump is proposing to cut programs that would result in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal support to California for early learning programs, K-12 schools, teacher preparation and retention, and college student aid.

If Congress were to agree to this proposal, the cuts would come as part of deep budget reductions Trump is seeking in numerous federal departments and agencies, while massively increasing spending on defense and homeland security. All states would feel the proposed cuts. But because of its size, California receives the largest amount in federal support and therefore would experience the most cuts, affecting the largest number of students.

Consistent with long-standing Republican policy positions to shrink the U.S. Department of Education, Trump is proposing to reduce its budget by 13 percent, or $9 billion, while investing an additional $1.4 billion in “school choice” programs. That would include increased support for charter schools and a new $250 million “school choice” proposal for private schools.

One major program Trump is proposing to eliminate is the $2.4 billion Supporting Effective Instruction Grants program, also known as Title II Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act. It is intended to improve teacher preparation and recruit and retain high quality teachers.

California currently receives $252 million from this grant fund.  The Trump’s budget described the programs as “poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact.”

To see how much each California district is currently receiving, go to table at the end of this report. 

If implemented, the cuts would come at a time when California is experiencing severe teacher shortages in many fields. Retaining teachers could go a long way to addressing those shortages, according to estimates by the Learning Policy Institute.

Efforts to address these and related issues through the program “are crucial to improving instruction, turning around schools, and addressing teacher and principal shortages and turnover,” said Learning Policy Institute President Linda Darling-Hammond.

Another program slated for elimination is the $1.2 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports before- and after-school programs as well as summer programs. California currently receives $113 million from the program, which Trump’s budget document describes as “lacking strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improved school achievement.”

In terms of higher education, Trump wants to “significantly reduce” the federal work-study program for college students. His budget proposal describes the program as “poorly targeted.” California currently receives $104 million through the program.

He also is pushing to eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program “to reduce complexity in financial student aid.” California currently receives $82 million from that program.

For a list of  federal education funds received by California, go here.

This fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, California is expected to receive $4.09 billion dollars in federal support for all elementary and secondary education programs out of the last budget approved by Congress during President Barack Obama’s administration. California receives another $4.3 billion in postsecondary funding, most of which consists of $4.1 billion in Pell Grants for low-income college students.

Altogether, California will receive $8.8 billion in early education, K-12 and higher education funding from the federal government this fiscal year.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos embraced the budget Trump proposed for her department, including the cuts. “Taxpayers deserve to know their dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively,” she said.

Trump is also proposing “level funding” to continue the $13 billion the federal government currently spends on special education programs as authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Special education advocates have been pushing  for decades for additional federal support because the amount provided by the federal government pays for only a fraction of the total costs incurred by states and school districts in order to satisfy federal mandates. Trump’s proposal to just keep funding at the current level was met with disappointment by the The School Superintendents Association, or AASA, which represents school superintendents nationally.

Trump’s proposal for a $1.4 billion school choice program raises multiple questions. He is calling for increasing the charter school grant program by $168 million from its current level of $333 million, bringing the total amount to just over $500 million. He also wants to start a new $250 million “private school choice program,” but does not provide any details on his plan.

The biggest portion of his school choice plan would come from a $1 billion increase in Title 1 funding, the federal program that currently totals about $15 billion and which goes to schools serving low-income students. The funds would not expand existing Title 1 funds, but would create an entirely new program under Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Trump wants to designate the $1 billion for programs in which dollars “follow the student” and which would allow the student to attend “the public school of his or her choice.”

Once again, Trump’s proposal is extremely short on details. But it would seem to allow students to attend whatever public school they wish to attend, whether a traditional public school or a charter, even if that school was in another district, and assuming that school was willing to admit them. But in California, both traditional schools and charter schools already receive funds based on a student’s attendance. So it is not clear whether the funds Trump wants to set aside for this purpose would be in addition to the funds a school or district already receives from the state, and whether it would have to be spent specifically on that student, or for programs that generally benefit him or her.

President Trump is proposing to eliminate the $2.4 billion Supporting Effective Instruction Grants program, also known as Title II Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It is intended to improve teacher preparation and recruit and retain high quality teachers.  The database covering most school districts in the state shows how much each district are slated to receive during the current (2016-17) year — and approximately how much they would lose should Congress go along with Trump’s proposal.



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  1. 3 days ago3 days ago

    The federal commitment to children with disabilities is abysmal! The 2015-16 local education agency (LEA) special education expenditure data just released indicates the federal special education funding contribution to California declining to just 9.19%, while the state funds 29.01% of the cost, resulting in LEAs having to backfill the funding shortfall using Local Control Funding Formula base funding. That’s 61.80% of the cost – or a whopping $8.1 billion statewide! Shameful!