This week, President Trump introduced his Administration’s first “skinny” budget, which includes $9 billion in cuts to education. Such sharp cuts would jeopardize vital programs that benefit students across the country.
New Leaders is particularly concerned that the Administration has proposed eliminating the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program (Title II, Part A). That program currently provides states, districts, and schools with $2.25 billion in flexible funding to strengthen teacher and school leader effectiveness and improve student outcomes, with a focus on investing in evidence-based strategies to support children living in poverty. This funding is used by the significant majority of school districts nationwide and is a critical support for schools.
In addition to pinching already tight school budgets, eliminating Title II, Part A funding will prevent states from taking advantage of a newly available optional set-aside that allows states to invest a portion of those funds specifically in developing and supporting principals and school leaders. That initiative won bipartisan support due in part to the recognition that effective school leadership, which has been long overlooked and underfunded, is absolutely central to improving schools and ensuring that all students get an excellent education. Cutting this funding would waste the considerable time and resources state officials have already dedicated to developing plans to bolster school leadership in their states through the set-aside.
As well, it would be a missed opportunity for school leaders and the teachers and students they serve. Losing vital financial resources for professional development risks increased teacher turnover, which would exacerbate talent shortages and achievement gaps, while severely constraining educators’ ability to learn and enact 21st-century instructional strategies. Ultimately, these dramatic cuts will make it more difficult for teachers and schools to prepare all young people for success in college, career, or whatever their next step in life may be.
Finally, New Leaders is concerned about what the overall cuts mean for other federal programs not specifically mentioned in the budget proposal — especially the School Leader Recruitment and Support Program (SLRSP), which supports evidence-based, locally-driven strategies to strengthen school leadership. We are also concerned about funding levels for the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program, the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program, and the Teacher and School Leaders (TSL) grant program, all critical grant programs that support teachers and leaders across the country.
As the FY2018 appropriations process moves forward, we strongly urge Congress to maintain or increase funding for critical investments in our nation’s schools and school leaders — and, thereby, in the teachers, students, families, and communities they serve.