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Congress Funds Education Much Better Than I Expected

May 1, 2017

In the wee hours of May 01, 2017, the House Appropriations Committee released a comprehensive budget bill that details federal funding through September 2018.

The budget was not what Donald Trump wanted. Indeed, the results appear to be more in line with a Democratic agenda. However, what that reveals is that the Republican-dominated Congress realizes the need to negotiate– and to not have a government shutdown on its watch.

Full Congress is expected to vote on the proposed budget later this week.

Bill highlights can be found here, including summarized information for each of the 11 departments/divisions.

The five-page summary specific to Labor/Health and Human Services/Education can be read here. Concerning the Department of Education:

Department of Education – The bill funds the Department of Education at $68 billion, which is $1.2 billion below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $2.3 billion below the previous Administration’s budget request.

  • Special Education – The bill includes $12 billion for IDEA special education grants to states, an increase of $59 million over the fiscal year 2016 enacted level, which will maintain the federal share of special education funding to states.
  • Student Support and Academic Achievement State Grants – The bill includes $400 million for a newly authorized grant program that provides flexible funds to states and school districts to expand access to a well-rounded education, improve school conditions, and improve the use of technology.
  • Pell Grants – The maximum Pell Grant award is increased to $5,935, funded by a combination of discretionary and mandatory funds. The bill rescinds a portion of Pell Grant surplus funds.
  • Impact Aid – The bill provides over $1.3 billion for Impact Aid, an increase of $23 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level.

The complete, 1,665-page budget document details Department of Education spending on pages 1008-1030.

In summarizing the federal education budget through September 2018, EdWeek reporter Andrew Ujifusa notes the following:

Lawmakers appear to be sending early signals of independence from the Trump administration on education budget issues. For example, in the fiscal 2018 budget proposal Trump released several weeks ago, the president also sought to eliminate just over $1 billion in support for 21st Century Community Learning Centers in fiscal 2018. However, this budget deal for fiscal 2017 would give the program a relatively small boost of $25 million up to nearly $1.2 billion. …

The budget deal doesn’t appear to include a new federal school choice program, a top K-12 priority for the Trump administration, although Trump’s request for such a program appears in his fiscal 2018 proposal and not his fiscal 2017 blueprint.

Whether lawmakers intend to either severely cut federal education dollars or fund a new federal school choice program (i.e., vouchers) for fiscal year 2018 remains to be seen. However, the more time that passes, the closer we come to the midterm elections of 2018, especially in the House. As Ballotpedia notes:

A total of 468 seats in the U.S. Congress (33 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) are up for election on November 6, 2018. …

Since 1934, the party of a newly elected president has suffered an average loss of 23 seats in the House in the following midterm. The party of a newly elected president has gained seats in the House in the following midterm only twice since then; Democrats gained nine seats in 1934 following Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first presidential election in 1932, and Republicans gained eight seats in 2002 following George W. Bush‘s election to the presidency in 2000. Due to this trend, more House seats that are currently held by Republican incumbents are expected to be in play than in a normal congressional election.

When it does come time for budgeting beyond September 2018, midterm re-election pressures could bode well for federal funding of American education, especially non-marketed American education.

Stay tuned, America. Stay tuned.

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

2 Comments
  1. Harlan Underhill permalink

    Democrats hope that #Resist will gain them votes. I seriously doubt it. The lies required are disgusting to almost half the electorate. 2018 may be the third time the President’s party gains house and senate seats. The 2018 education budget hardly matters to Trump voters compared to national defense and immigration, but if it contains increases for charters and choice, I suspect it will work for Mr. Trump. Since most voters like their own good public schools, Trump may be able to have it both ways, to keep his base and maybe even add some independents, or even patriotic Democrats. Funding inner city schools properly, however, is not likely to happen under either party’s administration.

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