Similar to past years, the Trump administration has released a budget proposal that seeks deep cuts to federal spending on children. One area that routinely ends up on the chopping block is education, which yet again would experience drastic cuts under the President’s Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget proposal. The President requests $66.6 billion for the Department of Education for FY21. If enacted, this would be a $6.1 billion, or 8.4 percent, cut from the Department’s FY20 budget. Unfortunately, the bulk of the cuts in this year’s proposal would come from K-12 education and would disproportionately impact low-income, high-need students. The President’s FY21 budget slashes federal K-12 education spending under the guise of state flexibility and school choice, and, as is often the case, our most vulnerable students would foot the bill.

A large part of this administration’s education agenda is to divest federal funds away from K-12 education, thus leaving school districts to fend for themselves with vastly unequal funding primarily driven by local property taxes. This time around, the President’s budget proposes to do so by eliminating 29 formula and competitive grant programs and consolidating them into a single block grant called the “Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant” (ESED). The block grant would eliminate funding for some of the nation’s most crucial K-12 education programs, including Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth, among many others, and replace them with a $19.4 billion block grant. In total, the block grant would cut funding across all 29 programs by $4.7 billion, or 19.5 percent, from FY20 numbers. In addition to leaving less money for these priorities, the open-ended nature of the ESED block grant would provide states with little accountability or direction as to how the money is actually spent.

The administration’s attack on public schools does not stop there, however. For the second straight year, the administration proposes establishing a $5 billion per year federal tax credit called “Education Freedom Scholarships” in an attempt to repackage the politically unpopular school choice vouchers. Under the proposed program, individuals and companies could earn tax credits by donating money to nonprofit scholarship funds, which students could then use to attend private schools. By providing tax breaks to wealthy donors, Education Freedom Scholarships would harm the vast majority of low-income students by funneling money away from America’s public schools and toward private institutions.

One of the few areas in K-12 education spared from cuts are programs for special education. The President’s FY21 budget provides $12.9 billion for IDEA Grants to States, which would be an increase of $100 million over FY20 levels. With this increase, IDEA Grants to States would cover 13 percent of the national average per-pupil expenditure for students with disabilities and provide an average of $1,739 per child for about 7.4 million children. Despite this increase, IDEA spending would still fall woefully short of fulfilling its original promise to cover 40 percent of the extra cost of special education. IDEA Preschool Grants, IDEA Grants for Infants and Families, IDEA National Activities, and Special Olympics Education programs are all flat funded from FY20.

The President’s budget also makes a welcome investment in Career and Technical Education (CTE). The proposal requests $2.06 billion for CTE Grants to States and National Programs, which is a $762.6 million increase from FY20. These grants work with low-income students to obtain career and technical education to connect them to post-secondary career success, and about 55 percent of spending for this program goes to children. However, these spending increases do little to offset the massive cuts in other areas.

In all, the President’s FY21 budget proposal for the Department of Education makes only modest investments in K-12 education while simultaneously slashing spending for the vast majority of programs.

Here are some top takeaways from the President’s FY21 budget proposal for Education:

Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant (ESED)

  • Would consolidate 29 K-12 education programs into a single, $19.4 billion block grant.
  • Programs eliminated and consolidated into the ESED block grant include:
    1. 21st Century Learning Centers
    2. Alaska Native Education
    3. American History and Civics Education
    4. Arts in Education
    5. Charter Schools
    6. Comprehensive Literacy Development Grants
    7. Education Innovation and Research
    8. English Language Acquisition
    9. Full-Service Community Schools
    10. High School Equivalency Program
    11. Homeless Education
    12. Innovative Approaches to Literacy
    13. Javits Gifted and Talented
    14. Magnet Schools
    15. Migrant Education
    16. Neglected and Delinquent Education
    17. Native Hawaiian Education
    18. Promise Neighborhoods
    19. Ready-to-Learn Television
    20. Rural Education
    21. School Safety National Activities
    22. Statewide Family Engagement Center
    23. Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants
    24. Supporting Effective Educator Development
    25. Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants
    26. Teacher Quality Partnerships
    27. Teacher and School Leader Incentive Grants
    28. Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies
    29. Elementary & Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant

Education Freedom Scholarships

  • For the second year in a row, the administration requests $5 billion per year for a federal tax credit for donations to nonprofit scholarship funds.

Special Education

  • The budget provides $14 billion total for special education programs, an $100 million increase over FY20
    • $12.9 billion for IDEA Grants to States, an increase of $100 million
    • $477 million for IDEA Grants for Infants and Families, same as FY20
    • $394.1 million for IDEA Preschool Grants, same as FY 20
    • $229.6 million for Special Education National Activities, same as FY20
    • $20.1 million for Special Olympics, same as FY20

TRIO Student Support Block Grant

  • This year’s budget would consolidate all 10 Federal TRIO Programs into one, $950 million block grant called the “TRIO Student Support Block Grant.” This block grant would represent a cut of $140 million across all Federal TRIO programs from FY20.
  • Federal TRIO Programs assist low-income, first-generation college students and students with disabilities to progress from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. About 50 percent of all TRIO spending goes to children.

Career and Technical Education

  • The administration requests a large investment in Career and Technical Education (CTE) in their proposal, providing $2.06 billion for CTE Grants to States and National Programs. This is an increase of $762.6 million over FY20.

Impact Aid

  • Impact Aid, which provides financial assistance to school districts affected by Federal activities, receives $1.41 billion in the request. This represents a $75.3 million cut from FY20.

Indian Education

  • Indian Education is flat-funded at $180.7 million in the FY21 request
    • $105.4 million for Grants to Local Educational Agencies
    • $68 million for Special Programs for Indian Children
    • $7.4 million for National Activities