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Trump’s Proposed Title I Intrusion Plan: FOCUS

May 18, 2017

According to Reuters, the White House is supposed to release its proposed 2018 budget on May 23, 2017.

On May 17, 2017, the Washington Post purportedly received advance notification of Trump’s proposed 2018 federal education budget.

One of the items in that proposed ed budget is a new program called Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success (FOCUS). As the Washington Post reports:

The administration would devote $1 billion in Title I dollars meant for poor children to a new grant program (called Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success, or FOCUS) for school districts that agree to allow students to choose which public school they attend — and take their federal, state and local dollars with them.

The goal is to do away with neighborhood attendance zones that the administration says trap needy kids in struggling schools. …

But the notion of allowing Title I dollars to follow the student — known as “portability” — is a controversial idea that the Republican-led Senate rejected in 2015. Many Democrats argue that it is a first step toward private-school vouchers and would siphon dollars from schools with high poverty to those in more affluent neighborhoods.

Indeed, a major issue here is the alleged (i.e., not able to be confirmed until official WH release of the 2018 budget) attempt to slip a new program into Title I– a program that not only is not mentioned in the Every Schools Succeeds Act (ESSA), but also one that would make state/local access to a portion of the Title I funding conditional upon meeting a special circumstance plastered onto ESSA by Trump.

As noted in Mother Jones, US ed sec Betsy DeVos is scheduled to appear before the House Committee on Appropriations on May 24, 2017, to defend the proposed 2018 fed ed budget– which would include defending the shadily-inserted, Title I-fund-succubus, FOCUS program.

A May 17, 2017, EdWeek article on the Trump 2018 ed budget proposal illustrates another sleight associated with FOCUS: By including it as part of Title I, Trump could tout that he *increased Title I funding.* Of course, as previously noted, that funding increase would also include insertion of Trump’s conditions for the funding:


…The spending plan calls for the creation of a new, $1 billion federal grant program under Title I to allow students to take federal, state, and local dollars to their public school of choice. That money would be added to the $15.9 billion Title I receives this budget year, fiscal 2017— that current funding is not “portable” to public schools of choice and goes out by formula.

Both the cuts and the new grant for Title I, along with other aspects of the full budget proposal expected to be released as early as next week, are consistent with Trump’s preliminary budget released in mid-March. …

In an interview, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., the ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee for K-12… slammed the budget proposal in general, saying that the proposal to make some Title I money portable “undermines the intent of Title I” by shifting money away from schools with high-levels of poverty to wealthier schools. And he said it would damage prospects for low-income students and their families.

“I hope that it is dead on arrival in the House,” Polis said. “Traditionally, presidents haven’t had their way [with the budget]. I hope we keep with that tradition.”

As noted in the March 16, 2017, Seattle Times, presidents rarely have their way with the budget:

The president’s budget is merely advisory. The Constitution gives Congress the power to dole out the money, and lawmakers are not eager to give up that control.

“It’s about institutional power and pride,” said Ross Baker, a congressional expert at Rutgers University. “Congress has given up a lot to presidents in recent years. They don’t want to give up this.” …

Trump’s fellow Republicans control both chambers of Congress, but even so lawmakers are expected to move forward with their own budget blueprint this spring, as they traditionally have done.

“Historically, presidential budgets do not fare well with Congress,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Stay tuned to see if tradition prevails.


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.

  1. Reblogged this on TechEducator1 and commented:
    Please read this!

  2. Lisa M permalink

    Again, bribery with our own tax dollars reminiscent of RTtT. I’d say what we have here is taxation without representation if this is allowed to pass.

  3. Interesting noise coming out of Jared Polis who is very pro-charter, and who, like all who profit from the charter school game, loves Title I money when it can be sucked up to help “poor” kids by attacking, blaming and endlessly garnering funds to re-train and control their very bad teachers…

  4. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Mouse trap is a perfect visual.

  5. Monty J. Thornburg permalink

    Title 1 “The War on Poverty” turned on its head. Title 1 created wonderful opportunities in places where I began my teaching career – the Black Belt in Alabama (near Selma) and in New Orleans. Right from the start there began a “War ON the War on Poverty” by people of Jeff Session’s ilk from Selma and with all of the “private academies” that sprung up to defeat desegregation. By the middle 70s I witnessed Nixon’s changes in Title I, at the school level; changes that were clearly aimed at reducing the flexibility and impact of Title I. Since Nixon the and the early 70s we’ve moved toward these Education Voucher proposals and with corporation attempt to tap into this huge pool of funds that were created by Johnson’s War on Poverty. It then became a WAR on the WAR on Poverty.

    Monty J. Thornburg, PhD, From: (1986) “Education Vouchers: The Issue of family Choice in American Education.” Master’s Thesis: School of Urban and Regional Studies, University of New Orleans.

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