Today, the Trump Administration released the so-called “skinny” federal budget. Chiefs for Change issued the following statement in response:
Over a year ago, legislators from both sides of the aisle came together to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), in part to provide state and district leaders with new opportunities and flexibility to support innovative, results-driven practices that address their local needs and ensure all students have the opportunity to attend great schools that will prepare them for college and careers.
Giving state and district leaders new tools to implement bold ideas and creatively use federal funds is one of the greatest promises of ESSA. Our members stand ready to lead and to leverage federal funds in the best interest of kids. We are excited about plans our members have to take advantage of these opportunities in their draft ESSA plans like:
— Using the new optional 3% set-aside under Title II to promote statewide school leadership opportunities by investing in innovative teacher and school leader preparation programs based on evidence-based practices to ensure novice teachers are ready on day one in the classroom; and
— Using Title II funds to identify, train, and support cohorts of teacher leaders whose classroom expertise can be tapped to review instructional materials, develop better assessments, and lead trainings of their peers and to support school systems in choosing aligned curricular materials and creating authentic professional learning.
We are pleased to see increased support in the President’s “skinny” budget proposal to help open, expand, and replicate high-quality, highly effective charter schools and their networks, as well as to support facilities funding for these schools. Our members are actively making sure kids and families have strong options, and new federal charter school funds can be used to further leverage their equity agendas. The additional $168 million to the Charter Schools Program will enable more students and families across their communities to access great educational opportunities by providing additional capacity in charter schools — options their parents and families are demanding.
However, stronger public school choice options is but one of many opportunities ESSA makes possible. The “skinny” budget also strips states and districts of flexibilities available under ESSA before they can ever be used, limiting the ability of Chiefs to affect meaningful change that will improve teaching and learning and lead to dramatic progress in academic outcomes for all kids. As Congress considers the Trump Administration’s proposal, we urge them to maintain funding in critical areas, like Title II and the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Fund, to ensure states and districts are able to take advantage of every opportunity under ESSA to the fullest extent possible, rather than cutting them off from these tools at the very moment they need them most.
In addition, while all of our Chiefs are working relentlessly to expand equity and opportunity so that all students are prepared for postsecondary success, these efforts will fall short if students and families cannot afford college or access supports to help them persist and earn a degree or credential. We also urge Congress to continue to make critical programs, like Pell Grants and work study, widely available to ensure the promise of a college education can be a reality for all students, especially those most at-risk.
About Chiefs for Change:
Chiefs for Change is a coalition of state education Chiefs and district superintendents dedicated to excellence and equity for all students. Chiefs for Change members lead education systems serving 4.3 million students, 288,000 teachers, and 8,200 schools. Learn more on our website: chiefsforchange.org.