Guy Johnson | Sr. Program Director, Federal and National Networks, Partners for Each and Every Child
The continued funding and functioning of our government should be more a natural matter of course than cause for celebration and relief. And yet here we are. That President Trump overcame his own inclination to shut down the government today, particularly for the reasons he gave, is similarly a mixed moment.
First, the good. The 2018 budget that Congress passed and President Trump signed not only overrode the administration’s calls to eliminate $1.1 billion funding for after-school programs, but increased funding for these programs by $20 million. The new budget also disregarded the administration's call to shrink the Office of Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education, instead adding money for the hiring of additional staff. In addition, the budget contained increases of:
- $2.37 billion for Child Care and Development Block Grants;
- $700 million for Title IV student support and academic enrichment grants;
- $610 million for Head Start;
- $300 million increase for Title I grants for local educational agencies (LEAs);
- $275 million for IDEA – Part B special education grants to states;
The funding amounts here are significant, but perhaps more important is the bipartisan agreement in Congress that attention to these communities and to these issues is an ongoing national priority.
The opportunity and challenge now moves to the community members and stakeholders who will ensure that lawmakers and administrators spend these funds effectively and judiciously, and in support of equity and excellence.
Of course the missing piece in today’s “victory” is a just and equitable approach to addressing the legal status of undocumented students in the K-12 educational system. Not only have these students and their families been callously and recklessly subjected by the current administration to deportation and predation at the hands of immigration officers, but they remain on the outside of the 2018 Congressional budget. The bill contains provisions for the naming of parks in Idaho, but nothing to ensure the protection and continued viability of thousands of these students in every state in our nation. It appears the fate of these students also now depends on the leadership of those conscientious community members and stakeholders who value equity and fairness for all of the students in our educational system.