This from Politico this morning:

Open the post for the links. DeVos is having lunch with Trump and Pence today. Apparently that is the only event on Trump’s not-busy calendar. He will spend the rest of the day watching TV.

 

By Kimberly Hefling | 02/12/2018 10:00 AM EDT

With help from Caitlin Emma, Mel Leonor, Michael Stratford and Benjamin Wermund

BUDGET DAY TO SHOWCASE EDUCATION WISH LIST: The release of the administration’s first full-fledged budget proposal later this morning will spotlight President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ priorities for 2018 and 2019. On the higher education front, we already know the White House will suggest broadening eligibility for Pell grants, tweaking requirements for trade licensing and growing apprenticeships in its $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan in an effort to boost workforce training.

– Last year, the Trump administration called for a $9.2 billion, or 13 percent, cut to department spending – cuts congressional appropriators largely ignored. Administration officials indicate they will propose drastic reductions to nondefense programs in today’s blueprint, meaning education programs are likely to see proposed cuts yet again.

– A big caveat: Congress raised the strict caps on how much the government can spend in the next two years when it passed its fiscal package, H.R. 1892 (115), early Friday amid the overnight government shutdown. As POLITICO’s Sarah Ferris has reported, Congress is even less likely to pay attention to the president’s funding request because it was written before the budget deal was reached. That’s important to keep in mind – especially in light of the inclusion of a $2 billion boost to higher education each of the next two years that congressional leaders agreed last week to spend.

– The White House said it would release an “addendum” to its proposal reflecting the raised spending caps because it was too late to rewrite the document. We’ll be watching closely to see how that affects education spending.

– The budget request will land at 11:30 a.m. and the Education Department has a 2 p.m. conference call to discuss it.

– Here are some things to watch for:

School choice: Last year, support for school choice in Trump’s proposed budget came at a cost. The president proposed big and unpopular cuts across the K-12 spectrum, on everything from teacher training to after-school programs. But he also proposed about $1 billion to encourage public school choice, $250 million for private school choice and a 50 percent boost for charter schools. Education policy watchers are watching to see whether similar priorities – and cuts – are pitched for K-12 programs. House and Senate GOP appropriators largely rejected the school choice proposals, although they did vote to give a small boost to charter schools – just not at the level the administration wanted.

STEM: Trump last year issued an executive order directing DeVos to spend at least $200 million in existing grant funds per year on the promotion of high-quality STEM education and, in particular, on computer science education. Education Innovation and Research grants could be one place where the Trump administration signals that priority.

Career and technical education funding. Trump called for more vocational schools in his State of the Union address, and has repeatedly touted career and technical education since taking office. That didn’t stop his administration from proposing a more than $1 billion cut last year to the programs that support the type of vocational education he says he wants to bolster and expand.

Education Department workforce reductions: The Trump administration has taken steps to streamline government agencies, including efforts to cut personnel. In recent months, 69 Education Department employees accepted buyout offers. The budget blueprint may spell out proposals for additional workforce cuts.

– School infrastructure funding: There have been no indications that the administration will include funds for crumbling school buildings in its infrastructure push, but many public school advocates have been pushing hard for a share and will be watching to see if any of the funds are targeted for K-12 upgrades.

Student aid programs. Higher ed watchers are looking to see if the administration will again call for deep cuts , including cutting $3.9 billion from the Pell grant surplus and eliminating entirely the $733 million Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, which provides grants to help low-income students attend college. Last year, it also called for cuts the TRIO and Gear Up programs, which help low-income students prepare for college. House and Senate appropriators mostly ignored these recommendations, although appropriations committees in both chambers did agree to cut billions from the Pell grant surplus.

Early education: The Trump administration cited insufficient Head Start Funding for its decision last month to waive an Obama-era rule requiring Head Start centers to offer full-day preschool year-round to at least half of their students by next summer. Preschool supporters are watching to see if the administration will again propose no funding increases for Head Start. Last year, the administration also proposed axing the Preschool Development Grants program, which Congress created in the Every Student Succeeds Act to target 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families – a recommendation rejected by congressional appropriators.