The Unnoticed Threat to Public Schools
From Friday’s op-ed on tax reform in Democracy Journal
While the eyes of public education advocates remain transfixed on Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Trump’s private school voucher and “skinny budget” aspirations, they are missing the far graver threat to public schools—tax reform.
Most mainstream media publications report that the federal role in financing local public schools is small, targeted, and progressive. They stipulate that the federal government is responsible for less than 10 percent of all education spending, supplied mainly through the Title I program for low-income children and IDEA special education program. They report that, while federal funding for education could be more targeted, it’s nonetheless relatively progressive in that more of it goes to schools and school districts with a larger number of children from low-income families.
But these reports are wrong, and you can bet Republican budget experts and political operatives know it. They know that federal financial support for public education is significant, general in nature, and disproportionately favors “blue” states. Under dark cover, they’re going to go after sizable amounts of federal support for public schools with a vengeance, using filibuster-proof vehicles of budget reconciliation and tax reform.