State may have to pick up more education costs

New Jersey’s public schools serving low-income students—in rural and suburban as well as urban areas—stand to lose services and programs if Donald Trump’s proposed budget becomes reality.  The only questions are 1) how much? and 2) How committed will our state legislature and local governments be to making up for the damage?

trump-christie-450.jpgThe president suggested during the campaign that he might “cut the Department of Education entirely” if elected, and although his current budget doesn’t do that (yet), the installation of a secretary of education who has made no secret of her antagonism toward public schooling, and a budget proposal that favors vouchers—i.e., public money supporting private/religious schools—doesn’t bode well for a future that includes an educated populace.

In addition to hyping vouchers, Trump’s budget would eliminate, or at least decimate, before-and-after-school programs; low- and no-cost meals for children; Pell grants, AmeriCorps and other financial aid for college students; teacher professional-development programs; and more.

New Jersey is in the enviable (given the current national situation) position of sending more money to Washington than it gets back, and of having most of its public education funded by local and state government.

While aspects of that funding are problematic and continue to be debated, the irrefutable fact remains that should the GOP go ahead with its massive budgetary assault on education, New Jersey will need to have in place—in local school boards and councils as well as in the State House—officials who understand that education is a right and is essential to the well-being of all in a society, and are willing to bite the bullet and do whatever is needed to provide educational opportunities for those who are the future of our state.