(March 21, 2017) Proposed cuts to the U.S. Department of Education budget would hit Louisiana hard, costing teachers and students over $73 million, according to the Center for American Progress.
“It looks to us like President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are determined to starve public education and divert money to private and religious schools,” said Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Larry Carter.
The budget sent to Congress last week includes cuts of $9 billion for public schools. The budget adds $1.4 billion in funding for “school choice,” including vouchers, with plans to increase that to $20 billion a year.
Included in the budget are cuts amounting to $2.4 billion for Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants (Title II of the Ever y Child Succeeds Act) and $1.2 billion for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (Title IV, Part B of ESSA).
Louisiana would lose $51.5 million in Title II funds and $22 million in Title IV, Part B funds. What does that mean in the classroom?
“Loss of the Title II funds amounts to the salaries of 1,075 Louisiana teachers,” said Carter. “Losing the Title IV funds would freeze 33,189 Louisiana children out of important after-school programs.”
States use the Title II funds to “recruit, train, support and compensate teachers,” according to the Center for American Progress report, while cutting Title IV would ”harm working parents, many of whom rely on after school and summer programs so they can provide for their families.”
While the president’s proposed budget will almost certainly be amended by Congress, it establishes the administration’s priorities, Carter said.
“The president has set his goalpost on the far right side of the playing field,” he said. “His budget prioritizes private and religious education over the public schools that serve more than 700,000 Louisiana students.”
That emphasis flies in the face of recent research showing that vouchers for private and religious schools results in lower academic achievement, Carter said.
“Our public schools are getting better every year,” Carter said. “We can make public education the best choice for parents and their children. Drastic cuts to vital services can only slow down our progress.”