Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos caught a lot of heat when her recent exchange with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee about her proposed Special Olympics spending cuts went viral.
President Donald Trump decided to override DeVos and keep the Special Olympics, which isn’t a federal program, and keep it funded.
But what about the rest of the education spending cuts? While most of the mainstream media bemoan any kind of education budget cuts and advertise them as an overt attack on children, the administration’s budget would actually be a boon for education—and conservative ideas.
DeVos’s budget proposal asks Congress to approve a budget that would decrease the department’s funding by $7.1 billion, even more cuts than in 2018. The proposal suggests cuts in several hot-button areas, specifically for students, including eliminating Public Service Loan Forgiveness and subsidized student loans. It also would streamline income-driven repayment programs for student borrowers.
The proposal doesn’t slash everything—it also increases funds for charter schools by $60 million, highlighting something DeVos developed a reputation for promoting.
Another huge aspect of the proposal, which the mainstream media has hardly acknowledged, is that it would allocate $100 million for new school-safety grants.
These are remarkably conservative concepts, given the current age and Trump’s reputation for a rogue adaptation of conservative ideas, such as promoting a limited government, lowering taxes, prioritizing infrastructure and national security, and more.
Still, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee grilled DeVos over these changes, acting like any cuts were an affront to modern society and a sincere wish that all U.S. children die uneducated and impoverished.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) lambasted DeVos about her stance on revising Title IX to include more emphasis on due process, one of the most significant things DeVos has done in her tenure yet.
Murray said: “I was extremely disappointed and concerned when you proposed a Title IX rule that would weaken protections for survivors and allow colleges to shirk their responsibility to investigate claims of sexual assault and keep students safe. I believe if your rule goes into effect, campus sexual assault will once again be swept under the rug, because students won’t feel comfortable coming forward knowing their school is less likely to act when they’ve been assaulted.”
This is hogwash, as anyone aware of the Duke lacrosse case or University of Virginia “Rolling Stone” rape fabrications can attest: Due process should occur on school and college campuses for both men and women—period.
Despite the fact that the budget prioritized a significant emphasis on school safety, which one would think any parent or politician would applaud, the subcommittee continued to berate DeVos for her Special Olympics cuts, even though it’s not even a federal program.
Personally, I think school safety should be a local issue, but you can bet if DeVos had let states fend for themselves on the issue of school safety, the Trump administration would be demonized—God forbid—should another school tragedy occur.
Next to the budget cuts in general, the best proposal was the recognition of the growing place charter schools have in public education.
The subcommittee and much of the media tends to ignore this point, because they assume it’s just a pet project DeVos has, based on her previous involvement in charter school growth in her home state of Michigan. However, the statistics are in her favor. Right now, the country spends around $10,000 to $15,000 per student per year in public school. Yet, Pew Research reports students’ scores lag in reading and math compared to their global peers.
Many recent studies show if modest federal tax dollars are allocated toward parental choice, which creates smaller, more focused charter schools, kids perform better and parents are happier. If the federal government is going to be involved in education—and I really don’t think it should be, but that’s another story—why not arrange it such that less money is spent, parents have more choice, and kids enjoy more diversity and a better education?
The fact that the Trump administration has had two stabs at an education budget and both times they’ve tried to spend less money not more, signifies a watershed moment: It’s a sign that while Trump hasn’t even come close to embodying the kind of conservative the country is used to observing, his office has still made a significant attempt to shrink an education budget that shouldn’t have ballooned out of control in the first place.
Nicole Russell is a freelance writer and mother of four. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Politico, The Daily Beast, and the Federalist. Follow her on Twitter @russell_nm
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.