Budget Cuts Are Putting Our Future At Risk

The Donald Trump Administration is working to instate major budget cuts to the Department of Education. These cuts plan to put an end to valuable after school and summer programs. The termination of these programs put students, the future of this country, at risk. This issue shows me that there is a major disconnect between the priorities of the government and the public.

The program to be cut is the 21st Century Community Centers program. The federal program gives students a positive learning environment to go to once school ends. Many of these valuable programs give students free tutoring and even a hot meal. Without looking any further these programs only seem to be positive, so why are they being cut? 

In America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, the Office of Management and Budget gives their reasoning. Page 17 of the government document reads: 

"Eliminates the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports before and after-school programs as well as summer programs, resulting in savings of $1.2 billion from the 2017 annualized CR level. The programs lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement." 

In other words, the cut claims to be (1) saving a very small percentage of the budget, and (2) ending a program that doesn’t improve the achievement of students. However, since the budget cut has been proposed, social advocates have been weighing in on the issue. Alyson Klein of Education Week suggests that the government's view of the 21st Century program is skewed. She explains that the evaluations of the program are outdated, and that the program has grown. 

So, why should the public care about the potential termination of this federal program? Many have probably never heard of, or seen, programs such as this one. The reason I care is that the program effects the students and parents who need it the most. Klein explains that the program is primarily for children in high-poverty communities. Our nation's egregiously wide achievement gap shows that students from poverty are not getting fair opportunities. The extra help that students receive in these programs provides them a way to catch up to their privileged counterparts. 

Along with children in poverty comes the issue of food insecurity. As I stated, many of these programs offer students a hot meal. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, nearly 17 percent of US households with children were food insecure in 2015. This means that millions of children in our country do not know when they will get their next meal. The 21st Century program offers a way for many of these children to receive the proper nutrition they may not get at home.  

Finally, federal programs, such as this one, offer students a safe place to spend their time in the crucial after school hours. I fear that students living in poverty will attempt to find different outlets without the after school programs. When students lose faith in the school system, it is easy for them to turn to drugs and crime. Without the opportunity of the 21st Century program it will be easier for children to do so. 

There is a lot that can be done to fight back against the budget cuts to our education department. Firstly, I suggest that we make sure that this issue is brought to the public's eye. The issue needs to be further exposed, especially because it directly affects the future citizens of our country. This can be accomplished by sharing the issue on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Secondly, I believe that we need to bring light to the disconnect between our politicians and citizens. Rebecca Klein of the Huffington Post explains that President Trump is meeting with the 2017 teacher of the year. They will discuss issues in our education system. This gives our policy makers the opportunity to see issues from a much needed alternate perspective. This is ultimately a step in the right direction, and we need more of it. 

There is no limit to the effort that needs to be put in. This is especially true with this education budget issue. A problem that puts our students, and future, at risk. With that being said, I do see hope for this issue. As citizens of this country, we cannot simply sit and hope. We must do our part and promote change.

Bibliography:

"Key Statistics & Graphics." USDA ERS - Key Statistics & Graphics. October 11, 2016. Accessed May 09, 2017. https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-...
 
Klein, Alyson. "Trump Budget Would Make Massive Cuts to Ed. Dept., But Boost School Choice." Education Week - Politics K-12. March 17, 2017. Accessed May 09, 2017. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2017/03/trump_budget_massiv...
 
Klein, Alyson. "After-School, Summer Learning Efforts at Budget Risk." Education Week. April 05, 2017. Accessed May 09, 2017. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/04/05/after-school-summer-learnin...
 
Klein, Rebecca. "This Is What The New National Teacher Of The Year Wants To Tell Trump." The Huffington Post. April 21, 2017. Accessed May 09, 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sydney-chaffee-teacher-of-the-year-d...
 
U.S. Office of Management and Budget. America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again. Washington D.C., 2017. https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/...
 
 
 
 

Applewhite, J. Scott, AP Images. In "Trump Budget Would Make Massive Cuts to Ed. Dept., But Boost School Choice." Education Week, 2017. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2017/03/trump_budget_massive_cuts_education_boosts_school_choice.html?_ga=2.239363200.248581357.1494345933-608782678.1491921981