Betsy DeVos plans to slash public education funding, eliminate college loan forgiveness

President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy De Vos attend a White House meeting with parents and teachers in February

The $10.6 billion cut for education in the 2018 Trump budget is irrational and unsafe ("Trump's first education budget: Deep public school cuts in pursuit of school choice", May 17). Public schools would lose "hundreds of millions" of dollars in funding for mental health and advanced coursework programs. Perkins loans benefitting disabled students would be cut by $700 million.

The proposed cuts in long-standing programs - and the simultaneous new investment in alternatives to traditional public schools - are a sign of the Trump administration's belief that federal efforts to improve education have failed.

DeVos never attended public school.

Noelle Ellerson Ng, associate executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association, told Education Week that Congress rejected the idea of allowing Title I funds to follow students to the school of their choice when lawmakers passed the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. When it comes to education, those are the swamp critters to watch out for, and budget time is when they're most risky.

President Trump is proposing a massive change in the federal government's role in education: the diversion of $10 billion from a host of student-friendly programs into federal programs to expand corporate charter schools and vouchers for private schools.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the Senate education committee, issued a statement saying, "This budget would weaken communities by eliminating funding for after-school programs, grant aid for struggling college students and teacher and principal training programs, and so much more-even Special Olympics education programs". At the state level, Gov. Charlie Baker recently pushed a ballot initiative that would siphon millions of dollars from public school budgets into the coffers of privately-run charter schools.

Under the administration's budget, two of the department's largest expenditures in K-12 education, special education and Title I funds to help poor children, would remain unchanged compared to federal funding levels in the first half of fiscal 2017.

Though Trump and DeVos are proponents of local control, their proposal to use federal dollars to entice districts to adopt school-choice policies is reminiscent of the way the Obama administration offered federal money to states that agreed to adopt its preferred education policies through a program called Race to the Top.

DeVos previously served as the chairwoman of The American Federation for Children, where she advocated for tax credits and scholarships. Those cuts will likely come from eliminating the school choice money and a few other items, in order to allow Congress to claim victory over deficit spending without having to make the toughest choices.

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