Education Not First: How Trump’s “America First” Budget Affects our Learning

May 2017 (Volume 67, Issue 3)

By Brian Perlman, Politics Editor

In March, President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget released its “America First” Budget, a blueprint of how the President believes the Federal Government’s 2018 budget should be handled. As Congress will create and approve the actual budget in May, this plan has not yet been adopted. However, with the Republicans’ full control of Congress, it is very likely that many pieces of Trump’s budget will be passed, which is concerning for many reasons, including for our own education.

The “America First” Budget gives more attention to School Choice, adding an additional $1.4 billion to School Choice Programs instead of to public schools. Additionally, the proposed $59 billion overall budget for the Department of Education would be 13% less than this current, 2017 year, as Trump focuses on large cuts from programs not related to national defense.

But how would these cuts affect public schools like ours? $2.4 billion in grants for teacher training would be slashed, making it harder to find well trained teachers in the future. Federal Work-Study programs, where college graduates in financial need are given part time jobs, would see severe cuts. This cut means that disadvantaged students would see less support from their own government.

Not all of the proposed Education budget is necessarily detrimental, however. The $13 billion in Special Education Funding would be retained, and Pell Grants, that help college students pay for tuition, would keep their funding. But the administration’s priorities are clear: School Choice is in, Federal Aid is out.

If implemented, these changes would affect all schools in some way, including Needham High. We have already witnessed how the President’s Executive Order on transgender bathrooms clashed with NHS values, but more than values could be at stake here. Public education could be entering some difficult times, and these difficult times may well pull NHS in, too.

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