WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — House Democrats on Thursday berated U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos over the Trump administration’s proposed education budget, calling it an attack on public schools.
Raising their ire: a plan to roll education funding into general block grants.
“You deny the resources to the most to the schools that need the help most, yes, you will fail,” an angry Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., told DeVos during a hearing.
DeLauro and other Democrats argue the block grants would effectively slash funding to charter schools and tutoring services, endangering youth literacy.
“It’s code for cutting programs,” Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said of the block grants.
Bustos added the proposed budget would decrease funding to rural school districts already desperate to recruit teachers.
“The fact that they’re cutting that, that’s a statement that they are not taking this problem seriously and it’s a big problem for our kids,” she said.
DeVos pushed back against Democrats’ claims, arguing the block grants will give states the flexibility they need to decide how money should be spent.
“Different states will invest their share of the block grant differently and that’s OK,” she said. “In fact, that’s what we hope they do.”
While some Republicans praised the strategy, others raised concerns, with Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma acknowledging, “There’s a risk here.” But he also defended DeVos, saying she is simply doing her job.
“I know you faced a very difficult challenge in making all the pieces fit,” Cole said.
Democrats say they’ll keep fighting for public school funding.
“With all sincerity, this is not going to happen,” DeLauro said.