Trump seeks education cuts to pay for defense, border wall

The Trump administration is proposing midyear budget cuts to boost military spending and build a wall along the Mexican border.

And education programs would absorb some of the prospective cuts.

POLITICO.com outlined the prospective $18 billion cuts Tuesday. The cuts would come more than halfway through the current federal budget year, which runs through Sept. 30. According to various media reports, the proposed cuts appear to have little chance of passing Congress (details from the Associated Press).

The administration wants to apply the 3 percent cut in discretionary spending to defense, POLITICO reported. About $2 billion would go toward the border wall, one of Trump’s earliest campaign promises.

The impact on education cuts in Idaho is not easily quantified. Some of the programs support grants that go to the states, or grants that pass through to school districts. But Gov. Butch Otter and the Legislature have built the state’s K-12 budgets on a presumption of stable federal dollars — $264.3 million for the state budget year, which ends June 30, and another $264 million in 2017-18.

POLITICO posted an administration memo outlining the proposed cuts.

The biggest prospective cut to K-12 programs is a $1.2 billion cut in state Title II grants. The goal of the “Supporting Effective Instruction” grant program is to improve instruction and reduce class sizes, but the White House isn’t sold. “Funding is poorly targeted and supports practices that are not evidenced-based,” according to the White House memo. “Other funding at (the U.S. Department of Education) can be used to support improved instruction.”

Other prospective cuts with a K-12 connection:

  • Striving Readers/Education for the Disadvantaged, a state grant program aimed to improve literacy in high-need schools: $189 million.
  • Mathematics and Science Partnerships, grants for teacher training: $152 million.
  • Elementary and secondary school counseling grants: $49 million.
  • Physical education grants: $47 million.
  • Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate grants: $28 million.