EDITORIAL: Private is not always better than public
Trump’s plan for Department of Education budget is misguided
Being university students, any proposals or changes made to the Department of Education should be at the top of a list of concerns, and President Donald J. Trump’s plans for his 2018 fiscal spending proposal is definitely a concern.
Trump’s proposal would result in the cut of $9 billion from the Department of Education and a $1.4 billion investment into school choice programs.
Although this proposal is merely considered a draft of spending created by Trump before it is approved by Congress in the coming months, the math behind the plan is daunting.
Let’s talk about the budget cuts first. Nine billion dollars is a lot of money to take away, and doing so will result in the diminishing of several significant educational programs and initiatives. This plan would cost teacher training about $2.4 billion in grants, after-school and summer programs over $1.2 billion in funding and a significant amount to federal aid. This means that low-income students who look to supplemental programs for financial assistance will be left to scramble to make ends meet. And why does Trump want to do this? Aside from reasoning that these cuts will only affect programs that are duplicates of other programs and ones that do “not serve national needs,” Trump wants to reallocate this money and his attention into school choice.
School choice may sound like a positive thing as it implies that students will receive funding to attend an alternate to a “deemed” failing school — however, this is not really good news.
The problem with Trump implementing such a heavy support of school choice is that he is also heavily advocating (and funding) private school vouchers and charter schools, and the idea of charter and private schools is not as glamorous as people make them out to be.
By putting so much funding only into these private options, Trump is taking away the opportunity to improve public schools — and most public educational institutions base their funding off of enrollment. And by pushing students to have “school choice,” Trump is pushing them out of these public institutions, giving them less of a chance to survive. Public schools create such a great space for students, especially from different socioeconomic statuses, whereas charter and private schools tend to only cater to certain demographics. Their ability to pick and choose who enters their system puts students who are not as academically inclined in a difficult position, and their common lack of transportation makes it harder for low-income families to travel to these schools in the first place.
But it is not just low-income students that tend to be left out of the charter school programs. Because of its selectiveness and lack of special education programs, there is not a lot of room for students who need special education services. Another one of the dangers of investing so much money into charter schools is that they do not allow for the same transparency that public schools allow for. As private exclusions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), charter schools do not need to allow others to review their federal agency records.
While Trump’s focus on charter schools and neglect of federal aid for students may make some uneasy, it is important to remember again that his proposal is merely that — a proposal. Although this budget can be looked at as an indication of the president’s concerns and lack of understanding of the educational system, it is necessary for students to remain calm and remember that Congress can still fix this budget and ensure that the best decision is made for everyone.
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