Education Department Makes Their Latest Devastating Cuts, Remove Important School Program

Updated June 21, 2017

The Washington Post published details of the education budget proposed by the Trump administration and, unsurprisingly, it’s not happy news.

At the heart of it is a glaring cut to resources that impact low-income children greatly.

The budget would cut funding for after-school programs, eliminating $1.2 billion for the the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which provides after-school programs for 1.6 million kids.

Many children involved in the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program are poor and their families rely on the after-school program for its economic assistance, in addition to a safe place for children to go so that parents and caregivers can work.

A report from the program’s 2014-2015 performance noted that, from data collected in 30 states, 65.2 percent of teachers reported an improvement in homework completion and class participation in students who participated in the program.

There was also an improvement in student behavior because of the program.

Halley Potter, a fellow at The Century Foundation, noted, “Their stated reason for cutting after-school programs is the idea that there isn’t evidence quickly boosting student achievement,” adding, “The evidence is mixed for student achievement, but there are other considerations, and community wraparound services are something where you wouldn’t expect to see results for a long period of time.”

Other proposed cuts involve funding for schools to teach Advanced Placement courses, provide mental health services, as well as physical education, science and engineering instruction.

Scott Sargrad, managing director of K-12 education policy at the Center for American Progress explained: “These cuts are particularly damaging for students from low-income families who need more resources than higher-income students to be successful.”

He added: “They also are much more frequently in schools where they don’t have access to critical supports like school counselors or rigorous course options like AP.”

The budget would also cut $13 million for the Promise Neighborhoods program, supporting “community-driven efforts to improve education for children in distressed communities,” according to Think Progress.

Potter explained, “The Promise Neighborhoods and 21st Century Learning Centers were part of this idea of recognizing that communities of concentrated poverty need extra investment to have better outcomes and the push to defund comes partly from frustrations that should have been quicker or more dramatic.”

Potter further added: “But I think the real lesson is that poverty is a much larger problem than we think it is, and there is a bigger question of about integrating a community and its schools that needs to be part of the conversation.”

As one person on the Think Progress coverage of this story noted: “So it begins. Our children start losing.”

In a discussion with Van Jones on The Messy Truth, former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke about the proposed $1.2 billion cut to after-school programs.

Schwarzenegger noted: “President Trump promised us he wants to ‘make America great again.’ That’s not how you make America great, by taking $1.2 billion from the children and robbing them blind. Why would he do that? Why would he want to balance the budget on the backs of those kids?”