William Mathis describes Trump’s education budget as a demonstration of Doublespeak, meant to mask its indifference to children.
“In 1965, the federal government, driven by the obligation to provide equal opportunities to the least fortunate of our citizens, passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It was intended to lift the nation by strengthening our poorest children and schools, improving the quality of teaching, opening the doors of higher education, and providing skills to adults. It embraced the ideal voiced by the late President Kennedy that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” And the emphasis was on building the common good. By widely investing in our citizens, we invest in the health of our society and economy.
“Those principles have found no refuge in the work of President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; all that remains of these great purposes are a confusion of empty words made to appear as if the worst were the better. Larded with phrases like “commitment to improving education” and “maintaining support for the nation’s most vulnerable students,” Trump proposes to slash federal education programs by $9.2 billion, or 13.5 percent. This is on top of past unmet needs, since federal obligations to poor and special education children have never been fully met. Starved programs are now set to have their rations reduced or cut entirely.
“With a remarkable lack of compassion, the Special Olympics budget was zeroed. Twenty-two programs are eliminated including community learning centers, arts, pre-school and teacher improvement.
Blind to clear evidence, every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education returns $8 in positive social outcomes such as reduced unemployment, stable families, less incarceration and the like. Yet the Trump budget treats this wise and productive investment as another area to defund: Head Start and child care are slotted for small reductions, while preschool development grants are entirely eliminated.
“The “civil rights” framing is stunning doubletalk, since a growing body of independent research shows that school choice segregates students by race, handicap and socioeconomic level.
“It doesn’t get any easier for poor and middle-class students as they get older. Loan forgiveness programs for new college graduates working in schools or government would be eliminated. Student loan interest would be increased. In Trump’s plan, 300,000 students would lose their work-study jobs. In all, $143 billion would be removed over 10 years.
“Why make these cuts? The proposal calls for an increase in defense spending of more than $50 billion (a 10 percent increase) plus tax cuts for the wealthy – and that money has to come from somewhere. By these deeds, a capacity for war is valued more than the needs of the citizenry.
“Yet, Trump says “education is the civil rights issue of our time.” This budget raises questions about whether his true objective is to cut civil rights. The proposal’s centerpiece is school choice. The budget seeks to funnel $1.4 billion, in new as well as repurposed funds, into private schools. The “civil rights” framing is stunning doubletalk, since a growing body of independent research shows that school choice segregates students by race, handicap and socioeconomic level.”
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