FY20 Budget Proposal Zeros Out Critical Programs for Education Technology

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The proposed FY20 budget slashes funding for critical education technology programs at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). The proposal outlines a number of priorities and makes a number of cuts to other programs reflecting the Administration’s desire to cut federal spending at ED.

While it is unlikely that Congress will pass a budget that looks similar to this proposal, the FY20 budget cycle may be more contentious than previous years with the White House promising to follow the deal that was negotiated in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011 enacted a series of complex mechanisms that has an impact on the federal budget. Government wide cuts, applicable to both mandatory and discretionary spending, were triggered after a failure to make a deal on deficit reduction in 2013. These cuts have been delayed a number of times but it seems the White House may push to keep the sequestration cuts intact this budget cycle as described in this piece by the Acting Director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

The administration outlined a number of initiatives for FY20 including increasing access to school choice, supporting high-need students through essential formula grant programs, protecting students by promoting safe and secure schools, elevating the teaching profession through innovation, promoting workforce development for the 21st century, and streamlining and improving postsecondary aid programs.

The proposal includes level funding for ESEA’s Title I, special education, career and technical education, and Head Start. School safety activities, charter school grants, and Education Innovation and Research receive small increases. The proposal to increase the Education Innovation and Research fund would go to test the impact of teacher professional development vouchers and to STEM grants.

Among the funding streams receiving cuts are ESEA’s Title II-A and Title IV-A which are proposed to receive $0 in funding. Title II-A helps teachers and other school leaders effectively integrate technology into the classroom and Title IV-A is the only federal stream of funding dedicated to education technology. The proposal outlines that these cuts reflect the Administration’s “commitment to eliminating funding for programs that have achieved their original purpose, duplicate other programs, are narrowly focused, or are unable to demonstrate effectiveness.” With respect to Title IV-A, the proposal outlines that these activities can be supported with funds from other sources and that most formula awards are too small to have a meaningful impact. SIIA disagrees with this premise as it is a new program authorized under the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act in an effort to give more decision-making power to local districts. The program has not yet been around long enough to analyze the full impact of the grants. We will continue advocate for full funding for Title IV-A.

Sara Sara Kloek is SIIA's Director for Education Policy.