Trump’s FY19 Education Budget Proposes an $8.1 Billion Cut

President Donald Trump giving the 2018 State of the Union Address.

President Donald Trump released his proposed FY19 budget this week and it proposes cutting $8.1 billion from the U.S. Department of Education’s discretionary spending compared to what the department received from the annualized FY18  continuing resolutions. $6.6 billion of those cuts come in the departments discretionary funding.

The budget proposes several program eliminations:

The second largest program to be eliminated is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers which accounts for just over $1.1 billion. They explain in President Trump’s FY19 major savings and reforms document:

The 21st CCLC program, authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, enables communities to establish or expand centers that provide additional student learning opportunities through before- and after-school programs, and summer school programs, aimed at improving student academic outcomes. While research has demonstrated positive findings on the impact of afterschool programs overall, the subset of afterschool programs funded by 21st CCLC are not, on the whole, helping students meet challenging State academic standards. For example, on average, from 2013 to 2015, less than 20 percent of program participants improved from not proficient to proficient or above on State assessments in reading and mathematics. Additionally, student improvement in academic grades was limited, with States reporting higher math and English grades for less than half of regular program participants. These recent results are consistent with findings of the last rigorous national evaluation of the program, conducted in 2005, which also found the program had limited academic impact. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of students attend 21st CCLC for fewer than 30 days a year, suggesting that the majority of families with participating students do not use the program for childcare.

These data strongly suggest that the 21st CCLC is not generating the benefits commensurate with an annual investment of more than $1 billion in limited Federal education funds. Moreover, the provision of before- and after-school academic enrichment opportunities may be better supported with other Federal, State, local, or private funds, including the $15 billion Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies program.

The largest program to be eliminated is the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants which was funded at just over $2 billion dollars. They said:

The Budget proposes to eliminate the Supporting Effective Instruction (SEI) State Grants program. While the SEI State Grants program authorizes a wide range of activities, in school year 2015-2016, 52 percent of funds were used for PD and 25 percent were used for class-size reduction. A Local Educational Agency that identifies either activity as a key strategy for responding to a comprehensive needs assessment may use Title I, Part A funds for the same purpose. Title I funds also may be used to recruit and retain effective teachers. In addition, PD as currently provided, has shown limited impact on student achievement. For example, a recent evaluation of an intensive elementary school mathematics PD program found that while the PD improved teacher knowledge and led to improvements in teachers’ use and quality of explanation in the classroom, there was no difference in student achievement test scores on either the State assessment or on a study-administered math test. Additional Department of Education-funded studies of PD have found similar results. While class size reduction has been shown to increase student achievement, school districts used SEI State Grant funds to pay the salaries of an estimated 8,000 teachers in school year 2015-2016, out of a total nationwide teacher workforce of roughly three million teachers. These data suggest that eliminating the program would likely have minimal impact on class sizes or teacher staffing levels.

They also eliminated $32 million for statewide longitundinal database systems, but, unfortunately, the only reason that was done was because the work it funded had been completed.

The U.S. Department of Education highlighted their priorities in the FY19 budget:

  • $1 billion increase for public and private school choice through the new Opportunity Grants program
  • $200 million dedicated to STEM education
  • More than $13 billion to maintain the Federal investment in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act State formula and discretionary grants
  • $15.5 billion to maintain the Federal investment in Title I grants to Local Educational Agencies (LEAs)
  • $43 million for School Climate Transformation grants to help States and LEAs mitigate the impacts of the opioid epidemic on students and schools

“The president’s budget request expands education freedom for America’s families while protecting our nation’s most vulnerable students,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said. “The budget also reflects our commitment to spending taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently by consolidating and eliminating duplicative and ineffective federal programs that are better handled at the state or local level. I look forward to working with Congress to pass a budget that puts students first and returns power in education to where it belongs: with states, districts and families.”

Supplement Not Supplant Is Dead

The U.S. Department of Education yesterday killed their draft rule for Title I funding in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) known as “Supplement, Not Supplant.” It’s not an issue that we’ve written a whole lot on here, but it highlighted one way that the Secretary of Education could gut any flexibility members of Congress thought they had when they passed ESSA.

If you were not familiar with the rule it basically said that  in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as recently revised by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that federal funds must supplement, and may not supplant, state and local funds. Civil rights activists and department bureaucrats were concerned that federal funding would replace state and local funding to the detriment of lower-income schools.

“For too long, the students who need the most have gotten the least,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr said in a released statement announcing the proposed rule last Summer. “The inequities in state and local funding that we see between schools within districts are inconsistent not only with the words ‘supplement-not-supplant’ but with the civil rights history of that provision and with the changes Congress made to the law last year. No single measure will erase generations of resource inequities, and there is much more work to do across states and districts to address additional resource inequities, but this is a concrete step forward to help level the playing field and ensure compliance with the law.”

Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday also expressed concern with this proposed rule and promised to enforce ESSA in way that “Congress has intended.”

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) issued a joint statement praising the decision.

This is a significant victory for students, parents, and school leaders across the country. The department’s regulatory scheme would have violated the law and unleashed serious harm on some of our nation’s poorest schools and communities. While this is encouraging news, we should never have faced the threat of this misguided regulatory proposal. We look forward to working closely with the new administration to ensure recent K-12 education reforms are implemented in a manner that respects the letter and intent of the law.

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) also responded in a released statement:

I am glad the Education Department has listened to Congress and has chosen not to move forward with its proposed ‘supplement-not-supplant’ regulation. This proposal would have dictated from Washington how states and school districts should spend nearly all state and local tax dollars on schools in order to receive federal Title I dollars — which are only about 3 percent of total national spending on K-12 schools. A regulation like this is not authorized by law; in fact, it is specifically prohibited by law.

I look forward to working with the incoming Trump administration and Betsy DeVos, once confirmed, so we can ensure that the Every Student Succeeds Act is implemented as Congress wrote it, restoring control of public schools to states like Tennessee and to local communities.

So this is good news, but it would be even better news if Congress scraped ESSA altogether and sunset the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Lamar Alexander Whines About What We Knew Would Happen With ESSA

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Photo credit: AMSF2011

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Photo credit: AMSF2011 (CC-By-2.0)

Senate Education Chair Lamar Alexander is shocked that the U.S. Department of Education is doing what he says he believed the Every Student Succeeds Act prevents the Department from doing – regulating things that Congress said shouldn’t be regulated.

Politico‘s Morning Education reported yesterday:

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander is not pleased with the Education Department’s early work on implementing the new Every Student Succeeds Act — specifically a draft regulation [] on Title I funding — and he let Education Secretary John B. King Jr. know loud and clear Tuesday. Alexander said he thinks the department is effectively regulating things that Congress prohibited the department from doing. And he was clear he plans to do everything he can to stop King from overstepping his bounds as the regulating process moves forward.

Alexander later indicated he hopes using his bully pulpit will be enough. “I’m hopeful that the secretary will go back and talk with his lawyers and say, ‘This senator and his staff are smarter than you think they are’,” Alexander said. But he sees three levers to use if King doesn’t change course: One way is using the Congressional Review Act, an obscure, rarely used law that allows Congress to overturn a final rule issued by an administration. Second, he could use the appropriations process to defund implementation efforts. And third, states could spur action: “If for example, a state submits a plan that the department refuses to approve, the state can ask for a hearing or it can sue in court and say the law says something different,” Alexander said.

King told lawmakers he’s trying to set guardrails for states as the law intended, not add new requirements. Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray didn’t side with Alexander; she reminded the committee that “while we were writing this law, we were deliberate on granting the department the authority to regulate on the law and hold schools and states accountable for education.”

Here’s video of Alexander’s remarks on the subject:

Bureaucrats gotta bureaucrat…. Seriously, this is why we were concerned about state’s having to submit their state assessment plans for the Secretary of Education to approve. Specifically it erodes state power over education though the law’s language specifying computer-adaptive assessments. Whose to say that the Department won’t tell a state that it can’t use say ACT for 11th graders, but has to use a computer-adaptive test?

Also, with standards the law now says that a state’s standards must align with higher-education requirements and with “challenging standards a.k.a. “career and technical education standards.”

No Child Left Behind never dictated that. What kind of “guardrails” will Secretary King establish for that?

If Alexander truly wanted to rid our nation of a “national school board” instead of pushing for this monstrosity of a bill they should have let the No Child Left Behind sunset instead of trying to fix it. The only way to reduce federal control is to specifically take power away from the federal government to regulate. They didn’t do that with the Every Student Succeeds Act. Alexander was warned, and now he’s whining because the Department is doing exactly what we suspected they would do.

Opt-Out of Common Core Now for the 2014-2015 School Year

Parental rights to raise children to respect the parent’s traditions and values have been under attack from many fronts including the U.S. Department of Education. The implementation of Common Core Standards undermines parental rights to make educational decisions for their children.  Now is the time for parents to protest this intrusion by opting their child out of Common Core for the 2014-2015 school year.

Race to the Top was a three-year program which expires in 2014 making NOW the ideal time for parents to opt-out. Districts need time to open discussions with parents about alternatives to Common Core and to implement those alternatives before the start of the 2014-2015 school year.

Congress did NOT pass legislation requiring Common Core standards to be implemented nor did Congress require that standards, curriculum, and tests be aligned. If parents allow the U.S. Department of Education to force policy upon the public as if that policy were law, the parents will be surrendering more than parental involvement to the federal government. How soon will it be before all parental rights are ceded to the federal government?

Nowhere in the Race to the Top guidelines is there any requirement for repayment of dollars obtained to implement Common Core. Therefore, if parents find Common Core to be unacceptable, they can change standards and districts will NOT have to return any RttT dollars.

Our government has falsely represented Common Core Standards as “internationally benchmarked” with proven success. Both statements are false and the government has no proof that either statement can be verified. When a company makes promises about a product and those promises cannot be delivered, the customer has a right to return the product and demand that his money be returned. The most effective way for citizens to receive the equivalent from the federal government is to demand that the federal government stop taxing states for educational dollars, to reject every federal educational policy the government tries to impose upon the state, and to recognize that this taxing authority is unconstitutional and should be returned to the states.

Examine the method of implementation used in your state. For example, Wisconsin did NOT commit itself explicitly to maintain any policies under RttT, including Common Core. This is an excellent source of leverage that parents may use.

If the U.S. Department of Education tries to become punitive, most likely Title I money would be threatened. Doing so would give parents a political goldmine. Title I dollars are intended for the neediest students. Imagine the outrage when the DoED takes money from those who need it the most simply because parents want to be involved in educational decisions affecting their children. Parents would be protecting their children from a vengeful, tyrannical federal government.

Here is a sample form that you can use, parents may and paste the form to use in their districts.

“Supplement, Not Supplant” Requirement Leaves States in a Bind

Unintended consequences, they always exist with well-meaning, but poorly thought out plans.  The NCLB waivers and the Race to the Top funds are no different.  It’s something we have warned about.  These new policies that states put in place in order to satisfy the requirements to apply for either the waiver or the funds will place an additional fiscal burden upon the states.  In essence, a brand spanking new unfunded Federal mandate!  Isn’t that exciting taxpayer?!?!

Rick Hess points out the problem is with the “supplement, not supplant” requirement that accompanies federal money:

One of the most pervasive of these is the “supplement not supplant” requirement, which has generally been interpreted as requiring that federal dollars be spent “on top of” whatever states, districts, and schools were already going to spend when serving the kids in question. It’s generally been presumed that, if states have committed to doing something as a matter of policy or statute, then it’d be a violation to use federal funds to pay for it (since they’ve already committed to doing it, even in the absence of federal money. Get it?)….

…This created huge consternation over the past few weeks, as “waiver” states realized that they were not going to be allowed to use Title I funds to provide the supports and interventions they had promised to provide in their waiver applications (as part of the price for getting out from under SES and public choice requirements). Last week, ED managed to stamp out that fire, by announcing that a state law or policy enacted in order to implement ESEA Flex is presumed to be supplemental. The administration explained, “Because the State legal requirement is tied to the State’s flexibility request, we would not consider the use of Title I funds to meet the requirement as presumptively violating the supplement not supplant requirement.”

However, this doesn’t resolve the main problem. It’s only a stopgap. The much bigger and more interesting challenge, to which few states have yet given any thought, is how all this will play out with efforts to implement teacher evaluation and the Common Core. Why? Because ED’s announcement also cautioned that its decision only applied to remedies for Title I schools and students–not to policies with more general implications. ED specifically explained that principles 1 and 3 of ESEA flex (Common Core and teacher evaluation) “raise issues regarding the allowable use of Title I, Part A funds because they pertain, respectively, to all students or all teachers and principals.” Therefore, because those activities benefit all students in the state, Title I generally cannot be used to implement those systems.

Of course, most states have been planning to rely heavily on federal aid for both Common Core and teacher evaluation, but RTT and “waiver” states that have adopted these policies now face legal jeopardy if they use those funds in that fashion. Savvy education consultant Krvaric, who works with a slew of states and districts, explains, “They’re putting themselves at risk. But no one is really focused on this yet. But they will be soon.”


Obama Education Policies Survive the Chopping Block; End Around of State Legislatures Continues

The Senate level-funded almost all of the education funding.  The House increased funding for Title I and Special education, but eliminated 31 other programs including Race to the Top.  The compromise spending bill was recently passed by the House, 296-121 this would fund several government programs until September 30, 2012.  The Senate is expected to pass the bill as well.

EdWeek reported what survived in the compromise bill:

Under the compromise spending bill, Title I grants for districts would see a tiny boost of $60 million, bringing the total to $14.5 billion. And the $60 million increase will be divided among thousands of school districts, so it’s unlikely to make much a difference overall.

Special education would also see a teeny hike, to $11.6 billion, a $100 million increase. Advocates are sure to celebrate that the funding is heading in the right direction, but that tiny boost is unlikely to have a huge impact on the bottom line for many districts.

Race to the Top, which would have been completely eliminated under the House bill, was funded, but the program was cut from nearly $700 million in fiscal year 2011 to $550 million. In fact, the House Appropriations Committee, which is controlled by Republicans, touted the reduction in its press release, saying that the “Obama administration’s unpopular Race to the Top” was cut. The grants can be made to either states or districts. That would be a big change for the program.

Other Obama priorities survived the chopping block. The School Improvement Grant program, which covers the cost of turning around the nation’s lowest performing schools, got $534.6 million, according to the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying coalition. That’s the same level as last year, but a little less than the $600 million the Obama administration wanted to see.

The Investing in Innovation grant program, which scales up promising practices at the district level, got nearly $150 million, according to CEF, or the same level as last year.

And the Promise Neighborhoods program, which helps communities pair wraparound services, such as health, with education, was a big winner. It got $60 million, according to CEF. That’s up from about $30 million last year.

What was the House thinking passing this bill?  Yes there are some budget cuts in it so they probably see that it isn’t a complete wash, but set the issue of money aside for a second.

The Republican Majority House just gave carte blanche approval for the Obama Administration through the Department of Education to continue to do an end around State Legislatures and Assemblies to go directly to school districts.  Wow.  That wasn’t a principled vote, it was looking for a deal to be done – at the expense of state sovereignty.