The Department of Education requested over 10 percent less funding for its 2018 budget, and an education scholar explained Friday why he supported the decision.
The Trump administration requested $59.9 billion for 2018 — an amount $7.1 billion smaller than its 2017 budget. Lance Izumi, senior director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute, explained to The Daily Caller News Foundation why that is a good thing.
“To eliminate those programs is a real plus for taxpayers and a real plus for students,” Izumi said, commenting on the Education Department’s elimination of funding to 17 programs it described as “duplicative” and “ineffective.”
The education scholar highlighted the after-school, learning-oriented 21st Century Community Learning Centers (one of the initiatives the Department eliminated) as a particularly wasteful program.
It “eats up about $2 billion per year, and it’s supposed to provide these after school and other supplemental programs,” Izumi told TheDCNF. “The problem is that virtually all the studies and research that’s been done on the program shows that there’s no connection between participation in this program and improved student performance in reading and mathematics.”
He said the U.S. Government Accountability Office examined 58 different 21st Century Community Learning Centers and discovered no correlation between enrollment in the programs and increased reading scores.
In fact, “students produced lower reading scores by participating compared to those who did not,” the scholar said. “You have very poor attendance among the student participants in the program…less than 50 percent of the students who attend more than 30 days.”
“Why should we be spending all this money, these billions of dollars on a program that all of the data shows is not achieving its purpose?”
Izumi also commented on the $1.1 billion the Education Department hopes to dedicate to school-choice initiatives. He explained that even if the federal government bolsters charter-school funding, it makes little difference if state laws still impede the schools from opening.
“If a charter can’t get approved under state law, it really doesn’t matter how much money the feds give to charter schools because those charters will never be started in the first place,” the scholar added.
Izumi opined on the special interest groups criticizing the Department’s budget cuts to teacher training programs.
“The teachers organizations are crying bloody murder,” the scholar acknowledged. “It may be a perk for the teachers to get a day off or to get professional-development training and it may fund an industry of professional-development trainers, but it’s not doing any good for the students, which is the reason the system exists in the first place.”