Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week summarizes the overall direction of the proposal leaked on Wednesday: “President Donald Trump’s full education budget proposal for fiscal 2018 would make notable cuts to the U.S. Department of Education and leverage existing programs for disadvantaged students and K-12 innovation to promote school choice…. Trump’s full education funding blueprint would cut $9.2 billion, or 13.6 percent, from the Education Department’s current $68 billion budget….”
Ujifusa continues, describing the “Title I Portability” plan which is part of the proposal that surfaced Wednesday: “Also, the spending plan calls for the creation of a new, $1 billion federal grant program under Title I to allow students to take federal, state, and local dollars to their public school of choice. That money would be added to the $15.9 billion Title I receives this budget year….” Ujifsa reminds us that currently Title I funding is distributed entirely by formula.
Keep in mind that Title I Portability would undermine the purpose of Title I, as it was designed in the original 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act: providing supplementary funding for school districts serving concentrations of children in poverty. Helping the public schools that serve our nation’s poorest children is a big problem because our society is becoming more segregated economically. Under Trump’s Title I Portability proposal, if a poor student were to transfer to a wealthier public school district, that child would carry her funding, including the extra Title I money. The poor district—still in need of help because it is serving a mass of poor children, including a significant homeless population as well as students who are part of the county’s foster care system—would lose the Title I dollars intended to help its schools.