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Trump Wants $5.7 Billion for a Border Wall. What Would That Buy for Schools?


By Alyson Klein and Andrew Ujifusa

The U.S. government was partially shutdown for more than a month because President Donald Trump demanded $5.7 billion for a border wall and Democrats refused to give him that amount. Now the government is reopened—at least for three weeks—and congressional negotiators will try to work out a deal on border security. 

Obviously, $5.7 billion is a lot of money for virtually anybody. But how much is it really in the context of the federal government? And how does $5.7 billion compare to spending on federal education programs?

We're so glad you asked! Here's a chart with several comparisons:

More on those and other comparisons:

•It's more than a third of the funding that schools get through the Title I program, which helps districts cover the cost of educating disadvantaged children. Title I gets about $15.9 billion a year.

•It's almost more than four times the amount of money the feds spend on Impact Aid, a $1.4 billion program which helps school districts make up for a federal presence on their land, including a Native American reservation or military base.

•It's almost three times as much as the $2 billion the Education Department spends on state grants to hire and train teachers.

•It's almost five times as much as the government spends on after-school and summer-learning programs through the $1.2 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants. The Trump administration has sought to get rid of that program. But Congress has nixed that idea.

•It's also almost five times the funding for the $1.2 billion Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, a flexible block grant under the Every Student Succeeds Act that districts can use to cover the cost of arts education, school safety, foreign language, and more. Trump has also sought to scrap this program, but lawmakers have kept funding it.

•It's more than seven times the $733 million Uncle Sam spends to help districts educate English-language learners.

•It's more than half as much as the roughly $10 billion allocated to Head Start, which helps finance early-childhood education programs for needy kids.

•It would fund the department's $95 million School Safety National Activities Program, which helps finance programs to improve school climate, 60 times over.

•It would fund the Charter School Grants proram, a priority for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, nearly 13 times over. It currently gets $440 million. 

President Donald Trump salutes as a U.S. customs and Border Protection helicopter passes as he tours the U.S. border with Mexico at the Rio Grande on the southern border on Jan. 10, 2019, in McAllen, Texas. --AP Photo/ Evan Vucci/AP

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