Congress rightly defends school funding from DeVos


By Editorial Board

The Northern Star Editorial Board applauds the decision made by the U.S. House of Representatives to reject a proposal for educational funding made by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

On March 21, DeVos and President Donald Trump proposed the most recent federal spending bill with many financial cuts in the area of education.

However, Congress put its foot down and stood with students in support of public education. Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriation Act, which adds $4 billion to the Department of Education, according to an April 2 Northern Star article. The bill also increases the Pell Grant by $175 for low income students and awards $700 million to programs assisting school-based mental health programs.

DeVos and Trump proposed cuts to Pell Grants, loan forgiveness programs and funding for public education at a time when at least 37 percent of jobs in the United States require some college education, according to a 2017 article by The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

DeVos and Trump planned on cutting $3.6 billion from public education and, in turn, giving private schools over $1 billion, according to a March 23 CNN article. Elimination of the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity grant, which serves students in need of financial help with education, was also part of the proposal.

Cutting funding and federal aid programs could have drastically decreased university enrollment and increased student debt. NIU enrollment dropped by 800 students this spring compared to spring 2017, according to a Feb. 2 Northern Star article.

The rejected proposal would have also negatively impacted a majority of current NIU students as 94.1 percent of undergraduates during the 2016 school year received federal aid, according to the NIU databook 2016-2017. Increasing student loan availability leaves the potential for enrollment to increase since students will be able to take out the financial loans necessary to fund their education, especially for public universities like NIU.

Across the nation, teachers and students have gone on strike over the past year to fight for funding and higher wages. The most recent strike occurred in Oklahoma where non-union teachers said they do not have the tools to serve their students, according to an April 10 Washington Post article.

We thank Congress for standing to financially support students, teachers and public education in a time where universities across the nation are struggling to keep their doors open and acknowledging the problem that has gone unnoticed for so long.