Monday, March 11, 2019

A Budget Change You May not Otherwise See

If you’ve looked at the president’s proposed budget for education and the news accounts of it, you’ll see lots of disasters.  For example, he’s proposing to give $5 billion away in tax credits to wealthy donors who create “scholarships” to send children to private schools.  And it gets worse from there.

What you may miss is a proposed 24% reduction to adult basic education (ABE) state grants.  Not many people keep up with the federal ABE funding outside of the ABE world.  You may not even know what ABE provides.  But it’s an important component of the adult education world as programs provide everything from basic literacy to pre-employment training to GED preparation to high school completion for adults.  It’s part of the nation’s educational safety net, and the current funding already isn’t enough to serve the immigrants and refugees needing to learn English, people who left school before graduating and need to develop pathways to economic independence, parents who want to be able to read their children a bedtime story, and many more categories of adults needing basic skills.

This initial presidential budget will go to Congress and not look anything like its initial version when they’re through.  Both houses will make many adjustments in the final budget that is due in September.  As the largest funder of ABE in the nation, the U.S. Department of Education’s state grants have a major impact.  A 24% reduction to already lean funding will be disastrous.  And while the K-12 world has many supporters who will advocate against the changes proposed in the budget, the ABE funding could easily get overlooked as people focus on K-12 issues.  I encourage you to become an ally to the ABE world and offer your voice with those of us who work in this area.  A reduction in this budget is just not acceptable.

To that end, I’m including a link below to ProLiteracy’s legislative update on the president’s budget.  Please read that document and consider sending your representatives a note about this.  And please share this message widely in your networks.