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Cutting Public Education Budgets is a Political Choice. Bailing Out Children is a Better Choice.

BOULDER, CO (June 4, 2020) – The aggregate cuts to education budgets currently described as inevitable are in fact a political choice being made by politicians, and they will inflict serious harm on children.

The alternatives to that choice and the looming damage are explained in Austerity, Subsistence, or Investment: Will Congress and the President Choose to Bail Out Our Children’s Future?, a policy memo released today by the National Education Policy Center. It is authored by Frank Adamson, a professor at California State University, Sacramento, Allison Brown of the Righteous Rage Institute for Social Justice (RRISJ), and University of Colorado Boulder professor Kevin Welner, who is the Director of the National Education Policy Center. The policy memo is also being released by the Schott Foundation and RRISJ.

The authors lay out the three options now facing the federal government: austerity, whereby states suffer budget shortfalls unaided by the federal government, leading to massive teacher layoffs and other resource deprivation; subsistence, whereby the federal government backfills state budgets to maintain the status quo, and investment, whereby the federal government responds to this crisis with the initiative to drive a national renewal of our public education system.

The policy memo arrives at a time of multiple calls for federal stimulus spending to support public education, and at a time when protesters across the country are marching against police violence and for equal rights for Black people and communities of color. It details why the country cannot afford to cut education spending at a time of increasing needs for children and families. It also explains how racial inequity in the system will result in further divestment from communities of color at a time when people en masse are demanding transformation of systems that have historically marginalized and failed Black, Latinx, and Native youth and families. Finally, it provides an overview of the types of investments that educators and families want in their schools, including investments in social emotional learning and restorative justice as replacements for the current over-policing of Black and Latinx bodies in schools. A clear and compelling alternative to cutting education spending exists: the historically successful approach of increased investment to fully fund high-quality public education and prepare our future generations.

In the end, the authors pose the question: If policymakers are willing and able to put trillions toward supporting wealthy investors and bolstering financial markets, how can they deny a fraction of that to our children to save their futures?

Find Austerity, Subsistence, or Investment: Will Congress and the President Choose to Bail Out Our Children’s Future?, by Frank Adamson, Allison Brown, and Kevin Welner, at:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: