Leahy And Local Vermont Leaders In Education Lead Charge Against Trump Education Cuts

. . . The Trump Budget Slashes $9 Billion From U.S. Department Of Education

Senator Patrick Leahy Friday joined community leaders to decry the “unconscionable” $9 billion in cuts that President Trump would slash from the U.S. Department of Education.  The cuts have been panned from Washington to Winooski for dealing a devastating blow to families’ to access quality education, from pre-K to college and the programs in between, for working families and the nation’s most vulnerable people.

Leahy, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said:  “The best way to create a ‘foundation for greatness,’ as the Trump budget claims to do, is to invest in our future through our schools and our children.  But the President’s budget displays a fundamental lack of understanding of the role of government of, by and for the people in making those investments.  This budget is unconscionable.  The cuts to education at every level will have devastating consequences for students in Vermont and across the nation.  This Vermonter will not stand for it, and this Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee cannot allow it.  Appropriations bills are where we set our national priorities, and funding decisions make those priorities a reality.  Vermonters know that education shapes the future of our children, our communities and the nation, and I will press to make education the budget priority that it must be.”

The proposal would reduce total federal education spending by more than 13 percent, or $9 billion.  This includes more than $4 billion in cuts to programs that support public schools, and another $4 billion in Pell Grants, TRIO and GEAR UP, all of which help people access higher education and jobs training.  The budget would also eliminate student support programs that public schools and communities rely on, including afterschool programs for at-risk youth, and early education. 

Joining Leahy in the call for protecting these education investments in Winooski on Friday were dozens of education advocates and providers, students and families, Vermont Agency of Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe, the Vermont Afterschool Alliance, Winooski School District, Champlain Valley Head Start, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, UVM College of Education and Social Services and the Vermont State Colleges.

Chancellor of Vermont State Colleges Jeb Spaulding said:  “The President’s budget would dramatically impact students from low-and moderate-income families with severe cuts to financial aid and student supports.  At a time when our economy and our communities require the full participation of all, the federal government should be increasing access to post-secondary opportunities, not closing doors.”

The news conference came on the heels of Leahy, as Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, questioning U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at an Appropriations hearing this week.  Leahy pressed DeVos to justify the draconian budget cuts and urged her to visit rural communities like those in Vermont to gain an understanding of the consequences of President Trump’s budget.  During the hearing, DeVos could not even guarantee that a proposal that would shift resources away from public schools would not discriminate against students. You can view video of Leahy at the hearing HERE.   

As Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Leahy will have a leading role in the negotiations and debate over the annual appropriations bills, which will ultimately determine the level of funding for the Department of Education.   

You can read Leahy’s full remarks HERE.


Trump Budget Lowlights For Education

Trump’s budget would cut $9 billion from the Department of Education

Effective Teacher Training and Instruction:

·       Trump’s budget proposes eliminating the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports before, afterschool, and summer programs for at-risk youths. 

o   Vermont receives approximately $6 million to support 21st Century programs each year.

Higher Education:

  • Trump’s budget includes a $3.9 billion rescission to Pell Grant surplus funds, instead of raising the Pell Grant maximum award or undoing prior eligibility cuts to strengthen its grant value. 
  • Trump’s budget proposes to dramatically weaken college access programs.  TRIO would be cut by $142 million and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) would see a $121 million cut.  Leahy noted that these programs are an essential lifeline to help low-income students succeed in college by providing students with support.  
  • In the current year, TRIO projects in Vermont receive more than $4 million to serve roughly 4,200 low-income students. 
  • The Trump budget proposes to entirely eliminate the $733 million Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program.  SEOG provides 1.6 million low-income undergraduate students up to $4,000 per year to help finance the growing costs of college at more than 3,700 institutions of higher education.
  • Vermont higher education institutions received $5.5 million in SEOG funds to support their efforts to provide need-based aid to college students.  Given matching requirements that lead to a 1:4 match by college and universities, this would result in nearly $7 million in aid denied to low-income students pursuing higher education at Vermont institutions. 

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