Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.
President Trump released his budget proposal last week which presented a bleak impression of how his administration wants to handle our country’s education system. He proposed to cut more than $9 billion dollars from the Department of Education.
Political views aside, there is something objectively and morally wrong about this part of the proposal.
This proposal goes against our basic American values. We use education to foster opportunities and knowledge as a gateway to ‘The American Dream.’ Limiting our education and school systems limits the potential of our country’s future. Our current education system is not only lacking, but is considered a failing system. Additionally, the U.S education system is low in its ranking, behind many other developed countries.
The budget proposal is not official and functions as a blueprint. It makes it clear where our administration’s priories lie, and they are not in the best interest of the majority of Americans, nor our education system.
The proposal talks about cutting Teacher Quality federal spending, which would remove 4 billion dollars in grants for teacher training and 1.2 billion for summer and after school programs. The Trump administration stated that these programs are “not effective, that duplicate other efforts and they do not serve national needs.” They are completely wrong. These programs are invaluable, especially to many working class families and lower income areas.
These areas not only receive less funding but are considered “high risk.” Students in these areas are at a higher risk for dropping out which means they are more likely to be incarcerated or unemployed. Often found in rural areas or inner cities, these districts are at a disadvantage, and the average teachers are often unprepared for the special challenges these students present. Teacher quality programs help train these teachers and decrease the likelihood of them quitting these schools. They also provide teachers that are equipped to handle these situations and that can foster successful relationships and safe learning environments for these at risk youth. Many working class and single parent households depend on after school programs so children have a safe and beneficial place to go if their parents have to work and can’t afford private after-school care.
These families and students are crucial to our country’s future and economy. We need to build thinkers and a new generation of educated adults to join the workforce and jobs left behind by the dying off baby boomers. These are not minds our country can afford to lose.
The Trump administration and policymakers are not technically ending these programs, they just propose to end federal spending towards them. Do not let this fool you; many districts rely on this money and the related grants to keep these programs going because they cannot fund them alone.
The education budget proposal also wants to cut funding to many D1 school districts. Schools and districts that are the most in need of funding will now be getting less. Low income, disabled, and non-traditional students, who are the most vulnerable, will be the most affected. This is not the road to making America great again.
The proposal, like the administration and an extremely unqualified Education Secretary, Betsy Devos, is in favor of School choice and Voucher programs. These programs would direct federal money to go to charter schools and privately funded independent schools, meaning that these programs will be taking resources and funds from public schools that are already struggling and will be used to help parents offset the cost of private school tuition. The idea is that it will help parents who want their kids to have a better education than their local school districts provide. Instead of just improving those public schools, it helps privatize education.
This proposal, while effecting K-12 schools the most, will have substantial effects on colleges and universities as well. It wants to significantly reduce federal work study and completely eliminate Supplementary Education opportunity grants (SEOG), which offer need based aid to around 1.6 billion low income undergraduates every year. In a time where it is already extremely difficult to pursue higher education and get a degree, this proposal will make it impossibly harder for many students around the country that rely on those grants.
Our education system should be a non-partisan issue, and policies over education should not be divided between political parties or towards “privatizing education.” Its not about politics, but about doing what’s best for our nation’s children and youth. The budget proposal is too general and does not adhere to the needs and characteristics of the individual school districts that make up our public education system.
A better option may be to return policies, in regards to education and the systems budget, to states and local communities because not all school districts are the same or have the same needs. Policy makers and folks in Washington are making it clear they do not see public education,low income districts, or working class families as priorities. Our education system is in strong need of reform, but Trump’s proposals are not only unimaginative, but will overall be more detrimental.
Schools and our education system should not be treated like a business. Education is not about making money but creating opportunities. If we are ever truly going to make America great and help our country excel, we need to invest in education and provide the resources to ensure that all the young minds in our classrooms can prosper.
Jayla can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or online @JaylaHodge