Statement on 2020 Federal Ed Budget

Statement of AFSA President Ernest Logan on President Trump's 2020 Education Budget 

The President may have been a month late with his FY20 budget owing to the 35-day federal government shutdown, but his proposed slashing of the education budget could have been predicted a year ago, maybe two years ago. That's because it looks a lot like his FY18 and FY19 budget proposals.

In this his third Presidential budget since his Administration began, the President again offers up another devastating overall cut to the Department of Education this time a whopping 10%. He proposes again the wholesale eliminations of the $2.1 billion Title II-A program that supports professional development for educators and the $1.2 billion Title IV-A program that funds safe and healthy schools, well rounded academic programs and effective use of technology. Once again, his budget also proposes to bolster his and Secretary DeVos school choice agenda by increasing funding for charter schools and, in a new twist on an old theme, putting $5 billion towards an as yet unpassed tax scholarship program. This last proposal is in reality just a backdoor voucher scheme to divert public dollars to private schools, something we have seen in his other budgets. In sum, this budget looks a lot like his previous two budgets a lot less money for public schools and greater support for private education. Like the song says: Same as it ever was.

But I do not despair because I am a student of recent history. In the previous two budget cycles, Congress received the Presidents budgets, considered them and ignored them. In fact, rather than adopting his massive public education cuts in FY18 and FY19, the House and the Senate wisely decided to level-fund Title II-A, increase Title IV-A significantly, provide only modest increases for charter schools and provide no new money for private schools. And that was when the Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress!

Now, we have a Congress with a decidedly different look. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still reigns in the Senate, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is now the Speaker of the House and Democrats have a strong controlling majority. This year, I expect the House will hold the line on education funding and even seek some increases. Further, I believe the Senate will follow suit because Majority Leader McConnell understands that the vast majority of k-12 students whether in Kentucky or California attend public schools and undermining them helps no one, while investing in them benefits all. So, while today may feel like dj vu all over again, I am confident that the FY20 funding cycle will end well for public education. Same as it ever was.