Trump and His Skinny Budget

DC Shuttle …

Trump’s Budget Proposal. President Donald Trump released his FY 2018 federal budget blueprint or “skinny budget.” Trump’s budget proposal would cut $9.2 billion, or almost 14%, from the Education Department’s budget. The proposal would downsize or eliminate a number of grants, including for teacher training, afterschool programs, and aid to low-income and minority college students. The proposal also calls for a $1.4 billion investment in charter schools, private schools and other school-choice initiatives. The proposal would significantly reduce federal work-study aid to college students. The blueprint calls for the elimination of the $73 million Sea Grant program, which operates in conjunction with universities in 33 coastal states. It would cut $3.7 billion in grants for teacher training, after-school and summer programs, and slash aid programs to first-generation and low-income students. It calls for increasing charter school funding by $168 million and creating a new private-school choice program with $250 million. It also calls for $1 billion to encourage districts to allow federal dollars meant for low-income students to follow those students to the public school of their choice. The Washington Post reports.

Ed Dept Releases Guidance on ESSA Accountability. As expected, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released guidance and a new template for states to submit their plans for federal review under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA). The guidance was necessary after Congress voted the previous week to use its Congressional Review Act powers to overturn the Obama administration’s rule on the plans. Under ESSA, states must provide a plan to keep schools accountable and rate them to ensure they provide high-quality education. The final rule was approved by the Obama administration in November, allowing it to be undone by Congress earlier this month. Critics of the final rule, including many Republicans, said the rule was too prescriptive, was an example of too much federal control, and did not allow states the flexibility to make their own decisions regarding the assessment of a school’s success. When it became clear that Congress intended to overturn the final rule, the Department of Education began work to provide new guidance to assist states with their plans. The new template is much shorter and less prescriptive than the previous rule. Critic of the change have made two charges against the approach. First, proponents of the original rule say that the federal oversight is necessary to ensure states are providing quality education, and argue that without federal rules, states will not be held to high standards. Alternatively, others have argued that the change actually consolidates more power in the hands of the education secretary. ESSA took decision-making power away from the Department of Education, leaving more to the states and limiting the role of federal oversight. Without the rule, DeVos will have the authority to approve or deny a state’s proposed plan on accountability.

STEM Education Hearing. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing on STEM education, focusing on how STEM programs would be furthered under the new ESSA. Testifying before the committee were Sarah Tucker, chancellor for West Virginia’s Community and Technical College System; Larry Plank, director of K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Fla; Neil Lamb, vice president for educational outreach at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Ala. and Caroline King, chief policy and strategy officer for Washington STEM from Seattle, Wash.

Study on Homeless Student Population. The Wisconsin HOPE Lab in collaboration and the Association of Community College Trustees released a new survey which found that one-third of community college students are hungry and 14% are homeless. The results were presented at a town hall hosted by George Washington University. The study found that hunger and homelessness were not isolated to urban or high-poverty community colleges, and they were prevalent in all regions of the country. About a third of the students found to have experienced food or housing insecurity had a job and received financial aid.

Student-Level Data. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Institute for Higher Education Policy are waging a new effort to push student-level data collection. The groups are publishing 14 case studies demonstrating how tracking data at a student-by-student level can help improve student learning and graduation rates.

SNHU Expands College for America to Federal Workers. Southern New Hampshire University announced that its College for America competency-based degree programs will now be available to all federal employees and their families. The program costs $3,000 a year for employees at an employer that offers it, which will now include the federal government. The program is part of an effort by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to workk with universities to provide federal employees with scholarships and tuition breaks to fill skill gaps in the workforce. Drexel University Online, Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies and the University of Maryland School of Business will also participate.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of March 20, 2017. For more information, please visit:


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