The recent release of President Trump’s 2018 budget set off a social media firestorm. While the budget proposal is not a legally binding document, it does function as a blueprint of sorts, one that signals the President’s priorities, values, and vision for America.
As a former teacher serving at a public school where many of my students were from already struggling communities, I’ve got some serious concerns. And as a person of faith, I can say this definitively: the President’s Budget does not reflect my values.
Budget cuts aside — which include deep cuts to Education (14%) and Health and Human services (18%) — most headlines revolved around the comments of White House Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney. This exchange was particularly concerning:
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 16, 2017
The President believes he can justify these cuts, on some very legalistic level, by saying each program targeted for cuts “doesn’t work”. But Americans living in poverty will pay the price for these shallow justifications — especially American school children, people with disabilities, and elderly citizens who lack families that would traditionally provide care for them.
At the middle school where I taught in DC, students regularly relied on before and after school meals and programming because they and their families had no other option. Often, these children were often homeless or their parents worked multiple jobs out of necessity and could not be present with them after school. Across the entire district, over 26,000 students participate in some form of afterschool programming. Of those students, roughly 5,600 are able to participate because of federal funding — funding that the President now wants to cut.
In Texas, where I live now, over 106,000 students will lose access to afterschool programming if the President has his way. Nationally, that number sits at 1.6 million.
The President or Mr. Mulvaney can claim these programs don’t work, and if Congress agrees, we will quickly learn what happens when those resources are taken away. These lessons will be learned at the expense of hungry students and elderly or disabled citizens across America.
As a former teacher and active person of faith, I stand with The Expectations Project and urge leaders in Congress to guide the Administration away from these harmful and extreme cuts.
Matt Worthington is a former district education technology administrator for KIPP Austin Public Schools and DC Public Schools. He also served as a special education teacher in DC Public Schools prior to working as an administrator. He resides in Austin, TX with his wife, Jess, and their two girls, Amelia and Giselle. He holds a Master’s in Education from George Mason University and is currently studying public policy at UT Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs.