Op-eds and Articles

Rotherham for U.S. News & World Report: No Imagination for Education

By / 3.21.2017

The presidential budget request is always a mash up of policy, politics, signaling and negotiation. Yet even with the caveat that any budget request is best taken seriously but not literally, President Trump’s first budget stands out as an exceptional missed opportunity in education and across a range of federal agencies. Ignore the theatrics about Trump’s new battle with Big Bird, he won’t win that one. And remember that some of the programs the president is putting on the chopping block are ones that President Obama sought to cut, too. Instead, what’s most tragic about this budget is how profoundly unimaginative it is at a time the country needs big ideas.

When it comes to the education budget, and the federal budget more generally, a strong case can certainly be made that cutting and reinvesting might help spur modernization and reform. Many education programs are an ossified grab bag of special interest priorities rather than real drivers of better outcomes for kids or genuine innovation. But some of these programs do provide essential support for students and contrary to popular wisdom it is quite possible to make things worse than they are now. So reform requires careful and thoughtful policymaking not blunt force trauma. Trump’s budget, by contrast, bludgeons rather than fixes. Worse, it doesn’t look forward, or even sideways, it looks down.

Read more at U.S. News & World Report.