Trump’s Education Budget Offers Good News for Parents

March 17, 2017

by Karen R. Effrem, MD


In last week’s column, I mentioned four things that President Donald Trump could do to keep his education promises. One had to do with the budget:

3.) Cut the Federal Education Budget

Considering that there are so many invasive, ineffective, expensive, over-reaching, privacy-robbing federal education programs that include related social emotional standards tied to Common Core, President Trump should direct his Budget Director, former House Freedom Caucus member from South Carolina, Mick Mulvaney, to decrease the federal education budget and especially root out some of these more invasive programs.

It appears that the president and budget director received this advice from multiple sources, because that is exactly what they have done. They propose to cut the federal education budget by a very healthy and respectable $9 billion, which amounts to thirteen percent. That is probably more than this wasteful, invasive, unconstitutional department has ever been cut in its entire history.

Although it is hard to know all of the details from the less-than-detailed blueprint released yesterday, we can see that at least approximately $8.4 billion are saved. We can also glean a few things about the nature of the proposed cuts.

Eliminating “Parent Replacement Centers”

Most important from the point of view of those who care deeply about parental autonomy in education and the psychological privacy and freedom of conscience of children is the $1.2 billion being cut by the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, because “the program lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement.”

Broadcaster Rush Limbaugh thought very little of this program and dubbed it “midnight basketball” back in the 1990’s under President Clinton after it was first introduced. And more recently, Barbara Hollingsworth of CNSNews.com dubbed these programs “Parent Replacement Centers” in an August 2015 article after funding for them was restored in an amendment to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Despite the abundant evidence of these programs ineffectiveness and harmfulness, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) (despite his vote against the amendment) and former Obama Secretary of Education Arne Duncan both supported this kind of womb-to-tomb government takeover of the family via government schools.

Fortunately, however, the Trump administration does not, and the president should be heartily commended for being willing to stand against the establishment and eliminate it. Not only would this education budget be redirected towards more constitutional funding priorities, but getting rid of this program and all its related subprograms would help prevent psychological profiling. It would also help Mr. Trump support another of his campaign education priorities, that of protecting student privacy.

Defunding Other Wasteful Programs

Other programs on the chopping block include:

  • “The $2.4 billion Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program, which is poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact.”
  • “Over 20 categorical programs that do not address national needs, duplicate other programs, or are more appropriately supported with State, local, or private funds, including Striving Readers, Teacher Quality Partnership, Impact Aid Support Payments for Federal Property, and International Education programs.”

There is no discussion in the blueprint of the statist Head Start program or career and technical education programs, however.

Increased Support for School Choice

President Trump is also increasing the budget toward his and Secretary Betsy DeVos’ priority of school choice:

Increases investments in public and private school choice by $1.4 billion compared to the 2017 annualized CR level, ramping up to an annual total of $20 billion, and an estimated $100 billion including matching State and local funds. This additional investment in 2018 includes a $168 million increase for charter schools, $250 million for a new private school choice program, and a $1 billion increase for Title I, dedicated to encouraging districts to adopt a system of studentbased budgeting and open enrollment that enables Federal, State, and local funding to follow the student to the public school of his or her choice.

While it is somewhat comforting that the Title I portability program is a public school choice program at this juncture, there is grave concern about the intended accountability regulations for private schools in the new private school choice program that could impose Common Core-aligned tests on private schools, and this will need to be closely watched. This major danger to private school autonomy has been covered by many writers in the education freedom movement, including Phyllis Schlafly, the late, iconic president of Eagle Forum; Jason Bedrick of the Cato Institute; and Education Liberty Watch’s Choice Freedom Grading scale.

The release of this budget blueprint is just the first step in a long, complex discussion and debate process with Congress. Parents and activists should be cautiously optimistic, but also vigilant as the discussion unfolds.

Photo credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff via Flickr, CC BY 2.0


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.

Archive: Karen R. Effrem, MD

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  • Joel says:

    @Karen Bracken
    There will obviously need to be something included with the voucher program that guarantees a private schools right to continue use of whatever curriculum they choose, and definitely clarifying they shall NOT be required to meet any federal or state regulations tied to any of this title nine garbage about bathrooms and transgender policy…I think the president knows what private schools expect, no integrity based school will accept a dime without these assurances locked in stone.

    • Laura says:

      The private schools already signed up for next year because the vouchers have the string attached to them already. After two years of going private school now they are turning to Ed Choice. I do not use vouchers so I opted her out of the test IN THE PRIVATE school this year. If a school takes the vouchers they have to take the tests and be put in a data bank. I don’t have any other options after this year!!!! Call any private school and they will tell you.

    • Karen Bracken says:

      Sorry but they will need to change ESSA and the Interagency Day Care Act because both require any school that takes vouchers to abide by state and federal mandates. Vouchers is how they will suck private and home school into the web. That is a fact. The rest is propaganda, lies and deceit. This is how they got Goals 2000, NCLB, RTTT passed……by lying and deceiving. By the time we find out it is too late and they know it. Lets not fall for it again.

  • Michael Bohr says:

    BTW. Scott H… The budget was not “cut”. What happened was the RttT grants ran out, which as you know were Robbed from the TARP funds to pay for. USED’s budget was not cut… A particular slush fund dried up.

  • Michael Bohr says:

    I was not and am not happy with DeVos as USED Sec… However, this is a step
    In the right direction and a big one at that. There is much to be cautious about, for sure, but I’m a angle father with full custody and I can’t afford private or homeschooling… And my kids need out of the current system! My oldest (a junior) will survive it but my youngest ((8th gr) is being destroyed. I don’t have time to wait for something better… Because something better will not be coming! Especially fro Lamaar Alexander, the GOP or the DNC.

    The details still have to be laid out but m willing to give trump a chance on this, based on what I see so far. Keeping ESSA/ESEA intact in its current form is a horror show. Here’s the bottom line:
    More of
    The same or a
    Diminished USED

  • Scott H says:

    Actually between 2006 and 2007 the DOE budget was cut by almost $33 Billion. And from 2010 to 2011 it dropped about $19 Billion.

    Budget 2006 – $100,047,663 (thousands)
    Budget 2007 – $ 67,124,090 (thousands)

    Budget 2010 – $63,009,432 (thousands)
    Budget 2011 – $43,901,252 (thousands)
    Don’t pay any attention to the fact the budget shows NEGATIVE mandatory spending in 2011 (wonder how they did that)

    Source The Department of Education-
    https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/history/edhistory.pdf

  • Karen Bracken says:

    I think what surprised me most of all was the title of this article. You might have called it Trump’s Education Budget Offers SOME Good News for Parents. I wouldn’t have reacted as I did because the title of an article sets the mood for a persons reaction to the content. I agree his budget does offer SOME good things but the Choice piece to me overrides anything good about the cuts. It will be devastating. We cannot believe a word that comes out of their mouths. Remember DeVos and Jeb Bush are closely tied together.

  • Karen Bracken says:

    I am very surprised that you are supporting the DeVos/Trump school choice (with some trepidation). Public funds used for private schools will only provide choice of location not what children are learning. ESSA still stands as law and if a private school takes federal money they are now owned by the federal government. Their idea of choice and what parents THINK they mean are two different things and this is how we get sucked up in their agenda and lies. Closely watch them??? What will happen is by the time we catch on it will be too late. DeVos already said ESSA did away with Common Core. No sorry but what they need to do is shut down the department and return ALL education decisions and money to the state and local boards. These people CANNOT be trusted. They lie, they implement, we find out they lied, we fight back but it is too late. We obviously have not learned a darn thing since the deception of Goals 2000, NCLB and RTTT. And now this.

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