In summary

The Trump administration unveiled its fully fleshed out budget proposal today, a fiscal vision for America characterized by significant cuts to discretionary spending programs and, among other things, a dramatic shift in education policy that could have a significant impact on California schooling.

The Trump administration has unveiled its fully fleshed-out budget proposal, a fiscal vision characterized by significant cuts to discretionary spending programs and, among other things, a dramatic shift in education policy that could have a big impact on California schooling.

Some of the most dramatic changes would come in the form of spending cuts. The proposal argues for a $9.2 billion net reduction for the Department of Education.

As the Los Angeles Times has reported, that would likely mean the elimination of the Supporting Effective Instruction State grant, a program that provides roughly a quarter of a billion dollars to California schools. These dollars are used for teacher retention and the improvement of teacher quality. Though the Obama administration raised questions about the program’s efficacy, some advocates have warned that terminating the program could exacerbate the state’s shortage of qualified teachers.

But more than a series of cuts, the budget also represents a marked shift in philosophy about education. In the introduction, President Trump argues that federal education policy should focus on “advancing opportunities for parents and students to choose, from all available options, the school that best fits their needs to learn and succeed.”

The administration has called for more than $400 million to fund charter schools and to provide vouchers for private and religious schools. Though such proposals are likely to be opposed by the Democratic Party and teachers’ unions, tax-funded vouchers appear to be remarkably popular among California public-school parents.

For now, the administration’s budget proposal is just that—a proposal. All budget decisions are ultimately made by Congress, where even some Republicans are viewing the president’s proposal with skepticism.

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Ben Christopher

Ben covers California politics and elections. Prior to that, he was a contributing writer for CalMatters reporting on the state's economy and budget. Based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, he has written...