Posted by on Feb 19, 2018 in Featured

The National Indian Education Association Releases Response to Trump’s Proposed Cuts to Native Education

The National Indian Education Association Releases Response to Trump’s Proposed Cuts to Native Education

The Trump Administration released its 2019 Budget on Monday, February 12th proposing a 5% cut to the Department of Education and a 14% cut to the Department of Interior. As far as Native education, the Department of Education proposed level funding for Title VI, the Indian Education Formula Grant Program, at $164.9 million. In the Department of Interior, significant cuts were proposed to the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) with respect to construction from $133 million to $72 million). Significant reductions in operating funding of more than $141 million from $892 million to $741 million in operating funding for BIE as a whole were also proposed.

The Administration’s Budget in Context
The Administration’s proposed Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 19) Budget is a starting point in determining the funding levels for Native education programs for next year. Ultimately, Congress will write its own appropriations bills that will play a significantly more important role in determine the final funding levels for next year. The Administration’s budget is important in that it marks the beginning of the process and is deeply concerning because of the lack of funding for Native students.

Next Steps
The next step in the process will begin on March 23rd, when Congress will start drafting the appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2019. Typically, Congress would have already begun drafting the appropriations bills, but disagreements over funding for the current fiscal year have dragged on through several extensions of funding, known as continuing resolutions. The most recent such extension will expire on March 23rd, by which time NIEA expects that final funding for FY 2018 will be reached before then.

The Impact of the Proposed Department of Education Budget on Native Students
The Department of Education’s FY Budget includes cuts to k-12 and higher education programs that are critical to Native student success:

  • Level funding for Title VI at $164.9 million for the full program, including the non-formula grant and Native language grant programs.
  • Title I funding received a very slight increase for inflation at $15.4 billion.
  • Title II funding for teacher preparation and professional development was eliminated again in this year’s Department of Education Budget, cutting over $2.2 billion in funding that supports the country’s educators.
  • Over $1.2 billion in cuts to after school programs.

NIEA is also concerned about an “Opportunity Grants” school choice program of over $1 billion was proposed again this year, to “expand existing private school choice programs.” Tribal sovereignty and consultation are significant concerns with respect to school choice programs and existing schools.

To see the Department of Education’s FY 2019 Budget, please click here.

The Impact of the Proposed Bureau of Indian Education Budget on Native Students

The Administration’s proposal with respect to the BIE is even more concerning than the cuts to the Department of Education. Specific cuts include:

A $61 million reduction in construction costs for BIE schools, from $133 million in 2017 to a proposed $72 million. (The administration proposed an alternative funding mechanism for school construction, but it is not focused on BIE schools.) The Administration also did not include funding for school construction in its $20 billion infrastructure proposal released last Friday.

A more than $140 million cut to the BIE’s operating funding, including a $20 million cut to the ISEP formula that helps provide critical operations funding for BIE Schools

Elimination of the Johnson O’Malley program in the proposed budget-reducing a historically bipartisan, proven program from the $14 million to $0 if the Administration’s proposal were followed.

To see the Department of Interior’s budget, please click here.

NIEA’s Response
The cuts to BIE are similar to ones we saw from the Administration in 2018 that we defeated. With Congress even more united in support of funding now that a budget deal has been reached, NIEA will be working to achieve similarly results over the coming year to help address the significant need for construction for Native schools, call for the support of Native students, and secure the critical funding necessary to fulfill the federal trust responsibility for Indian education.

NIEA will provide additional analysis of the Budget and infrastructure proposal over the coming week.

In the meantime, if you have questions about the Budget, please email Matt de Ferranti, NIEA’s Legislative Director at or call him at 202-847-0039.

About The National Indian Education Association (NIEA)
NIEA is the Nation’s most inclusive advocacy organization advancing comprehensive culture-based educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Formed by Native educators in 1969 to encourage a national discourse on education, NIEA adheres to the organization’s founding principles- to convene educators to explore ways to improve schools and the educational systems serving Native children; to promote the maintenance and continued development of language and cultural programs; and to develop and implement strategies for influencing local, state, and federal policy and decision makers. For more information visit