Congress Keeps Adding to the Education Swamp with Budget Increases

July 13, 2018

by Karen R. Effrem, MD


Although not surprising in an election year, congressional appropriators — who are generally not known for their political courage — are not doing anything to drain the putrid, unconstitutional swamp that is the U.S. Department of Education and its related programs. Both the full House and Senate Appropriations Committees have completed their Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 that will begin October 1st.

As we described a few months ago, the omnibus budget bill for FY 2018 exploded deficits and significantly enlarged the federal education footprint. Although there are some places where there are no new increases, the FY 2019 bills are not significantly different. Sadly, in most cases, Congress rejected President Trump’s wise efforts to keep his campaign promises by decreasing federal education spending and eliminating or reducing invasive programs. The good news is that neither the House nor the Senate is yet moving on the well-intended but dangerous plan to merge the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor.

A table with more exact numbers comparing the FY 2018 and 2019 bills is below. But first, here is a brief description of the status of major programs of concern that we have been following.

Title I for Disadvantaged Children — The House keeps the same spending level after the big increase of the FY 2018 bill, while the Senate increases the spending for this main federal education funding program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), now called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Since 1965, this unconstitutional and ineffective federal program has been the vehicle for increasing federal control and interference in what is supposed to be state and local control of education. It has brought us Goals 2000, No Child Left Behind, and Common Core. However, it will never work because it does not deal with the main cause of poor and minority student underachievement — growing up in single-parent households caused by the government-induced destruction of the African American family via disastrous welfare policy. Congress refuses to look at the evidence showing that two-parent families and religious involvement erase the achievement gap.

Mental Health/Social Emotional Learning  Both the House and the Senate increased funding for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants in ESSA which are being used for both physical school safety measures, as well as the more invasive and subjective school based mental health and social emotional learning programs. This is politically motivated in the wake of recent school shootings, but it is likely to create more harm than good. Funding was held steady for the Full Service Community Schools and 21st Century Community Learning Centers, the ineffective and invasive programs nicknamed Parent Replacement Centers. The Trump administration wanted to eliminate or reduce these problematic programs, but Congress did not agree.

Institutes for Education Sciences (IES) — The House held the funding steady for this data-mining arm of USED that includes the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). However, they explicitly rejected the President’s desire to eliminate the State Longitudinal Data Systems, arrogantly contrary to the strong desires of parents and students across the nation and across the political spectrum. The Senate slightly increased IES funding by $2 million.

Preschool — Both the House and the Senate are increasing the infamously and disastrously ineffective Head Start program — the House by $50 million and the Senate by $125 million over the big increase in the FY 2018 bill. Both chambers also continued the extremely problematic Preschool Development Grants at $250 million for the next fiscal year. Both of these poor funding decisions clearly demonstrate why the invasive Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act (FEPA) is so unnecessary — there is no need to collect more sensitive data on American citizens when government continuously ignores mountains of data it already has showing that programs are ineffective and or harmful.

Home Visiting — In one bright spot, Congress decreased the funding for the umbrella program that encompasses home visiting, the parenting version of what Ronald Reagan called among the most frightening phrases in the English language: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you [raise your children].” These programs are both ineffective and invasive, even by government’s own admission.

State Assessments — The funding accompanying this completely unconstitutional federal mandate that states test 95 percent of their students with assessments that align to their statewide standards (which in most cases are the Common Core standards) was kept level by both chambers.

Charter Schools — Funding for federal grants to states to expand charter schools was increased by both chambers. The dangers to private school and parental autonomy, as well as to local control, of charter school expansion as proposed by establishment insiders like Jeb Bush is outlined here.

Below is a detailed breakdown of the spending amounts for each of these programs, listed in millions of dollars.

PROGRAM

FY ’18 ENACTED FY ’19 HOUSE Committee FY ’19 SENATE Committee FY ’19 WHITE HOUSE Proposed HOUSE ’19 vs. WHITE HOUSE HOUSE ’19 vs. ENACTED ’18 SENATE ’19 vs. WHITE HOUSE SENATE ’19 vs. ENACTED ’18
Title I for Disadvantaged Children $16,443.8 $16,443.8 $16,568.8 15,926.8 +$517 $0 +$642 +$125
Student Support & Academic Enrichment (Including MH/SEL) $1,100 $1,200 $1,225 $0 +$1,200 +$100 +$1,225 +$125
21st Century Learning Centers $1,211.7 $1,211.7 $1,211.7 $0 +$1,211.7 $0 +$1,211.7 $0
Full Service Community Schools $17.5 $17.5 $17.5 $0 +$17.5 $0 +$17.5 $0
Institute for Education Sciences (Data Mining) $613.5 $613.5 $615.5 $521.6 +$91.9 $0 +$93.9 +$2
Head Start $9,913 $9,963 $10,163 $9,275 +$638 +$50 +$888 +$250
Preschool Dev. Grants $250 $250 $250 $0 +$250 $0 +$250 $0
Primary Health Care (Including Home Visits) $1,626 $1,526 $1,526 $5,091 -$3,565 -$100 -$3,565 -$100
State Assessments $378 $378 $378 $369 $9 $0 $9 $0
Charter Schools $400 $450 $445 $500 -$50 +$50 -$45 +$45

 


Dr. Karen Effrem is trained as a pediatrician and serves as president of Education Liberty Watch and the executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.

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