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Trump's Proposed Budget Calls for Big Cuts to After-School, Summer Programs

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President Trump released his first budget proposal today, and it calls for big cuts to after-school and summer programs.

His 2018 spending plan would allocate $59 billion to support the U.S. Department of Education. That's a $9 billion reduction in education spending overall and a 13 percent reduction from last year.

Under Trump's proposal, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program would be eliminated. The program, which supports after-school and summer programs, serves students in low-income communities. By slashing it, the president would save $1.2 billion.

The program is criticized in the proposed budget for lacking "strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement."

In a press release, the executive director of Afterschool Alliance, Jodi Grant, called federal funding of after-school programs "modest" but "absolutely vital."

"The Trump administration's call for zero funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) after-school initiative is a betrayal of the millions of students and parents who depend on after-school and summer learning programs," Grant wrote. "This proposal would devastate working families. It is painfully shortsighted and makes a mockery of the president's promise to make our country safer and to support inner cities and rural communities alike."

U.S. Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a Democrat, and Republican U.S. Representative Lou Barletta, of Pennsylvania, sent a joint letter to the director of the federal Office of Management and Budget asking that the administration reconsider the proposal to eliminate this program.

"The program assists working families who rely more and more on after-school and summer learning programs to effectively balance maintaining a job while raising children in a safe environment," they wrote. "These academic programs provide not only academic enrichment for students, but also teach critical life skills, and provide healthy meals and snacks."

While after-school and summer programs are facing massive cuts, Trump's budget calls for increases in funding for school choice programs. Charter schools are set to receive an additional $168 million, and $250 million would support a new private school choice program. The president's plan also calls for adding $1 billion  to Title I. These funds would be used to encourage districts to adopt "a system of student-based budgeting and open enrollment." Through that system, federal, state, and local funding would follow a child to the public school of his or her choice.

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