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Educational budget cuts affect students

By Brian Tapken
On April 19, 2017

President Donald Trump released his prospective 2017-2018 Department of Education budget in mid-March of this year seeking to cut $3 billion in funding. 

The proposal has drawn widespread criticism from many education and civil rights groups. It should be noted that it is merely a blueprint, with Congressional lawmakers drafting their own proposals and the plan that Congress passes will form the basis of the various departmental appropriation bills. 

That round of vital educational decision-making isn’t expected until May. It also curtails or eliminates funding for around 20 departmental programs that are assessed as ineffective, duplicative or don’t serve “national needs,” whether those are political or religious in nature is anyone’s guess. 

With decreased funding having repercussions for students and educators across the country, low-income students are particularly vulnerable. In addition to eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, which offer need based aid to around 1.6 million low-income undergraduates yearly, this administration wants to significantly reduce Federal Work Study programs. 

Although these programs have been criticized for disproportionately aiding private institutions, they are judged successful at helping students graduate and find post college employment, which in recent years a high percentage of students can’t or are having a hard time finding jobs. 

Also called for is around $200 million in cuts for federal TRIO programs, which benefit low-income, first generation and disabled students. Crucial Pell Grants are safe for now, although a surplus in that area that would go toward helping students attend summer school, will be partially stripped. 

Several educational budget consultants have stated that unanticipated budget cuts can have far ranging consequences to schools purchases of technology and services meant to aid disabled or low-income students. 

Another vital sector of education is one of professional educator development, which is highly involved in the core group of disciplines referred to by the acronym of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and other sectors of public education. With American students losing status when measured against students of other industrialized nations any cuts in the Federal Department of Education are at best ill-advised and at worst evidence of the Republican Party’s war on public education.

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