Last week I began a series of emails to you about consultation and the current state of ESSA. I hope you are finding the information helpful as you prepare for consultation. One topic that I want to cover for you is the budget proposal released by the White House last week and its implications for ESSA.

The first thing to know about a budget proposal from the President – any President – is that it is the Administration’s focus for spending, but it is by no means a blueprint that the Congress follows. The saying goes, “The President proposes, and the Congress disposes.” But that doesn’t mean there is nothing in the proposal that warrants our attention. In fact, quite the opposite!¬†

Within education, the President proposed providing no funding at all for Title IIA-professional development. This is a program that every public and private school child generates funds for and which greatly benefits teachers, principals, and other educational personnel in both public and private schools. In my opinion, it would be a great loss to private schools to end this support for professional development. Another significant program that would be zeroed out is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, currently Title IVB in ESSA. While not many private school students participate in this program (even though it has equitable participation benefits attached to it), there are many children across the country that depend on this program for after school extended learning and a safe place to be while parents are working. Of final note is that the new Title IVA-21st Century Schools-would receive no funding. This program would fund a well-rounded education, safe and healthy students, and technology education. It is a very flexible program that includes the equitable participation of private school students.

You will undoubtedly hear from your leadership organizations on the new budget proposal and be asked to assist in an effort to save important programs from the chopping block. But it is important to note that the proposal is for the 2018 fiscal year.  Because of the way education is funded in the federal budget process, this proposal affects the 2018-19 school year, and not the 2017-18 school year. 2017-18 is still in limbo because it has been funded thus far through a continuing resolution, but there should be a permanent resolution of this funding no later than April 28, 2017.

I hope that this information puts the budget process and the President’s budget proposal into perspective. Surely, there will be lots of back and forth on the merits of individual elements in the future. In the meantime, I’ll pick back up with consultation tips to help you prepare for this spring’s consultation process.