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Trump budget

Education: Trump wants more money for vouchers, cuts elsewhere

The Trump administration wants to spend $1.4 billion to expand vouchers, including for private schools, and would pay for it with deep cuts to federal aid to public schools, according to budget documents released Thursday. 

Voucher programs, a favorite cause of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, provide tax funds to families that they can use to pay for tuition at private or religious schools.

The $1.4 billion in the budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 would be the down payment on a program that would be "ramping up to an annual total of $20 billion," the budget says.

Opponents of voucher programs say they would drain funds from public schools. The administration's budget provides some support for that fear -- it would cut existing education programs by about 16% to reduce the department's overall budget while absorbing the new program.

The full $20-billion annual program would be roughly a third of existing federal aid to education if it were enacted.

Of the proposed new $1.4 billion, about $250 million would go to private schools, $168 million would go to new charter schools, which are independent schools within the public system, and the rest to expand programs that allow parents to send their children to public schools outside their local attendance areas.

The budget's cuts would hit a wide variety of federal school-aid programs, including before- and after-school programs and an Obama administration program that provides grants to school districts for improvements in teaching. 

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