LFA Members Blast White House Budget Proposal

By Joetta Sack-Min

Fiscal 2019 proposal would spend billions on defense and infrastructure, advocates call plan "devastating" to critical K-12 programs

The fiscal 2019 budget put forth by the Trump administration today would spend billions of dollars more than the federal government will take in, breaking promises to balance the federal budget, yet K-12 education is once again shortchanged. Members of the Learning First Alliance spoke out against the proposal as an assault on public education, particularly working families and disadvantaged students, as well as disingenuous toward President Trump’s campaign promises.

Below are statements released by members of the Learning First Alliance:

Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association, said, “In my response to the FY18 proposed budget, I reflected on my practice and belief as a school superintendent that our budget reflected our mission; that we funded what we supported and we supported what we funded. By that metric, President Trump’s proposed FY19 budget falls short of the simple willingness and ability to prioritize support for strengthening and supporting our nation’s public schools and the students they serve. With today’s FY19 budget proposal, as well as the infrastructure proposal details which lack an explicit role for public education, we continue to wonder not only if the administration supports our nation’s public schools, but also why their policy proposals remain so willing to make deep, damaging cuts and omissions.” 

The National PTA decried proposals to use taxpayer funds to pay for school vouchers, and called for funding for Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) and STEM education. "“National PTA has long advocated for high-quality public education to ensure all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Our association remains steadfast in our belief that public education must be strengthened with the support of adequate funding,” said Nathan R. Monell, executive director of National PTA. “National PTA hopes the administration and Congress recognize the importance of investing in public education for children and our nation’s long-term success.” 

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García said the Trump administration is “playing politics with the lives of millions of students and working families with their latest reckless and misguided budget proposal, which is nearly identical to what Congress rejected last year.”

“Once again, Trump and DeVos want to slash billions from public education and force families to pay more for college. They want to redirect scarce public dollars from public schools to private schools with their voucher scheme despite a mountain of research that shows that vouchers do not work, they undermine accountability to parents and taxpayers, and they have failed to provide opportunity to all of our students.”

Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) CEO Keith Krueger strongly criticized the proposal to eliminate the bipartisan Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant program:

“Congress established the program to encourage local innovation, which would support STEM education, develop open educational resources and identify other specific local needs,” he said. “However, the President’s budget, ironically, would cut one of the largest existing sources of STEM funding only months after announcing a major STEM initiative. Now is not the time to walk away from SSAE grant investments. They are critical in providing our students with the technology and training required to be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.” 

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said the budget poses a “lethal threat to public education.”

The Trump administration “gave trillions in tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations, and, in this budget, they are taking billions from kids and public schools—particularly from those kids and schools in communities whose majorities are nonwhite or poor,” she said. “Far from the softer image (Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos) is trying to promote, this is a budget from an administration that is trying to set up public schools to fail. By putting forth a budget that includes the same cruel cuts as last year, Trump, DeVos and Vice President Pence show that they have failed to learn anything.”

Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director and CEO of the National School Boards Association, said "Programs that support teacher and principal recruitment, preparation and retention, and student academic enrichment should not be sacrificed as proposed in the Trump Administration’s budget. These programs lay the foundation of the nation’s future workforce and global competitiveness."  

Learning Forward has continuously fought to save the $2 billion Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants Program (Title II, Part A) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which the Trump budget again proposes to eliminate.

“All of us at Learning Forward believe that Title IIA's annual investment in teachers is vital, and we are working hard to make sure that Congress and the administration understand this program's value and support funding it adequately. From my perspective, proposals to deeply cut or eliminate Title IIA, which Congress is currently mulling, would be devastating,” Executive Director Stephanie Hirsh wrote in a blog post.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals also analyzed the recent passage of the budget plan and the impact of new caps on the federal budget.

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