Shocking $3.6B Education Funding Cuts Disapproved by US Congress

a year ago

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The spending bill released by the U.S. Department of Education late Wednesday has caused quite a stir. Betsy DeVos, known for her extensive school choice agenda, had proposed to cut Education Department funding by $3.6 billion (~5%). The secretary believes there are items of expenditure that can be eliminated:

  • funding for after-school programs for disadvantaged students
  • college grant program for low-income students
  • cuts to the Office for Civil Rights
  • grant programs supporting student mental-health services

Instead, Ms. DeVos proposed to allocate over $1 billion to promote charter schools, magnet schools, and private school vouchers.

What Is US Congress Intention On Education Funding?

The US Congress is looking to increase department funding by $3.9 billion. In doing so, no funding for the school choice program is envisioned. Passing the spending bill on March 23 will ensure the following:

  • increase investments in student mental health programs.
  • increase funding for the Office for Civil Rights and after-school programs.
  • $700 million for a wide-ranging grant program that schools can use for counselors.
  • $22 million for school violence reduction program.
  • $25 million for a Department of Health and Human Services program to support mental-health services in schools.
  • $40 million for the popular D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant to give city students affordable college options.
  • additional investments in early childhood education ($610 million in new funding for Head Start).

This is the second year in a row when the Congress rejected the Secretary DeVos’ proposal. Evidently, DeVos’ extreme ideas to privatize the nation’s public schools and dismantle the Department of Education do not find the support in Congress.

According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration has consistently tried to cut funding for “federal work-study programs helping over 300,000 students work their way through college.” Also, the Congress had to prevent freezing the maximum Pell Grant award to low-income students at $5,920 by increasing its allocation by $140 million, for a total of $1.1 billion.

What About Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

A $350 million discretionary relief fund has been created to support Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This program eliminates federal student debt for individuals employed in the public sector after they have earned 10 years worth of loan payments. The spending bill includes a funding raise of $106 million for historically black colleges and universities and other educational institutions for minorities.

Disadvantaged students can enter a college owing to a $60 million increase allocated to special needs student programs. Allocating an extra $35 million into the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program aims to assist low-income college students with child-care costs.

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Any questions or propositions?