President Donald Trump’s budget proposes big cuts to education spending. In Boston, educators are worried after-school programs and the students who benefit from them will end up being the big losers.
During a recent fashion design class at Boston’s Bridge to Excellence nonprofit, 8-year-old Alicia Kamara was putting the finishing touches on a spring-inspired bright blue floral gown she had drawn. Alicia created the picture in class, one of a number of designs she had drawn since the program launched in October at Tobin Elementary School in Roxbury.
One in particular stood out: She and other students drew Egyptian inspired garb. It was a perfect opportunity to learn about a culture and combine that with their passion for art and for drawing in particular, said program adviser Sophia Rice.
“This is all about project-based learning,” Rice said.
But when the president rolled out his proposed budget last week, it cut education spending by $9.2 billion, including about $1.2 billion from the kinds of programs the Bridge to Excellence runs.
The organization, which provides before- and after-school services, is one of a number in the city that would face serious budget constraints under the president’s plan. The federal budget will ultimately be decided by Congress, and is likely to be very different from the one he proposed. But the uncertainty is there.
About 10,000 Boston Public Schools students partake in before- and after-school programs. Boston schools spent about $7 million on after-school programs, according to budget information, but exactly what portion of that might be at risk if federal dollars dry up is unclear. Boston Public Schools did not provide information prior to Metro’s deadline.
“I would say about 90 percent of our students rely on vouchers to afford our programs,” Rice said. “Without vouchers parents would not be able to go to work or afford childcare.”
Despite claims by Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney that the education programs on the chopping block are programs that don’t work, Tobin Elementary Director of Instruction John Holly, strongly disagreed.
“It’s 10 hours or so of additional instruction per week,” he said. “Outcomes are support for reading, developing technology competencies and learning about entrepreneurial opportunities.”