Budgets reflect values and priorities. The Trump administration's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 cuts essential services that make it possible for families to participate in, contribute to, and get ahead in the economy and participate fully in our democracy.
The Trump budget proposal is not a place to start. Congress should build a budget from the ground up. That budget should focus on all Americans and, particularly, should emphasize pathways and supports for the most vulnerable. It should look at investments in education, workforce development, housing, health and human services, agriculture, and community and economic development programs together because such a holistic approach will make real opportunity possible. Kids can't learn when their stomachs are growling or when they are sick. Adults can't get ahead if there is inadequate funding for education and training or resources for wraparound services so they can get to work and know their children are safe and taken care of well. And we can't re-engage millions of opportunity youth if dollars allow us to only reach a few.
We need adequate levels of investments to keep our children and families safe, healthy, and productive. Proposed funding cuts to Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), Community Development Block Grant, Community Services Block Grant, Choice Neighborhoods, Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act, Career and Technical Education, and many more programs make this impossible. Our nation must not trade in these programs for tax cuts for the wealthier among us. These tax cuts are leading to drastic state and local responses such as shortening the school week, cutting sports, math clubs, and arts. They shortchange millions to benefit a handful.
Beyond these profound worries, the Institute for Educational Leadership's specific concerns are:
- Choice for some, at the expense of many. The Administration's proposal to divert federal funds to expand choice and voucher programs can only reach a limited number of children and leaves millions without choice and voice.
- Elimination of resources that support the development of the whole child, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which at $1.1 billion provides core funding for afterschool programs and community schools, the Full-Service Community Schools program ($10 million) in the Department of Education that funds grants for community schools, the new Academic Enrichment and Student Support program ($400 million).
- Reduced support for children who need it most, including cuts in funding for ESSA Title I, our nation's major program supporting disadvantaged children.
- Fewer pathways to good jobs and careers as a result of proposed cuts of $168 million in Career and Technical Education and cuts of $2.5 billion in the Department of Labor, including approximately $1 billion in state formula grants under Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. This is the exact opposite of what our businesses say is needed to find the skilled workers they need.
- Elimination of programs at the heart of our democratic legacy, such as the Corporation for National Service ($1 billion) that funds AmeriCorps programs, a majority of which are located in schools and nonprofit organizations.
- Making disability policy less visible and impactful by repurposing of the Office of Disability Employment policy funding, including eliminating its youth technical assistance centers.
- Reducing supports for needy children through an 18% decrease in Department of Health and Human Services resources with major cuts to Medicaid.
- Reducing mentoring services that work and transform the lives of at-risk youth to help them steer clear of the juvenile justice system and grow to be productive adults. The president's proposal would cut funding for the Youth Mentoring Grant to $58 million for fiscal year 2018.
- Further limiting opportunities for frontline workers and adult job seekers to improve their foundational skills through a disproportionate 16.5% cut of $96 million in the resources under the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, leaving millions who need and want to upskill without any opportunities.
To see the full array of budget cuts, read the Major Savings and Reforms Budget of the U.S. Government (FY 2018) document from the Office of Management and Budget.
If you wish to address these issues, then consider:
- Sharing this information broadly;
- Engaging public officials of any affiliation in conversations about and site visits to affected programs and services to show how these cuts would impact children, youth, adults, and families in their cities, districts, and states;
- Taking joint actions with others who want to preserve the resources that close opportunity and achievement gaps.
The Institute for Educational Leadership