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budgets

Trump proposal cuts $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives, expands school choice

Budget documents obtained by The Washington Post show that the Trump administration plans to cut $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives while spending $400 million to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools, plus move $1 billion in Title I funds meant for poor children to a new grant program for school districts that would let students decide which public school they want to attend.

The administration seeks to get rid of programs that provide afterschool activities for 1.6 million children, most of them poor, and offer child care for low-income parents attending college. Funding would vanish for public service loan forgiveness and student support and academic enrichment programs that help schools pay for everything from anti-bullying initiatives to Advanced Placement courses. The proposal would also halve funding for a work-study program that lets students work as they attend school and eliminate more than $700 million in Perkins loans for disadvantaged students.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a school-choice and voucher advocate with no experience in public education, and her budget calls for $500 million for charter schools and $250 million for "Education Innovation and Research Grants," which the Post says would "pay for expanding and studying the impacts of vouchers for private and religious schools." The District of Columbia has the only federally funded voucher program in the United States, but an analysis by the Education Department found that voucher recipients performed worse on standardized tests after a year in private school than students who stayed at a public school. The budget also requests an additional $158 million, an increase of 7 percent, for expenses at the Education Department, including salaries, enhanced IT, and security costs for DeVos, although 150 positions would be eliminated.

Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill said the figures are preliminary until the budget is released next week, and a White House official told the Post "the president and his Cabinet are working collaboratively to create a leaner, more efficient government that does more with less of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars."