President Trump's Budget Proposes Over $4 Billion in Cuts that Impact Native Education
The FY 2018 budget released Tuesday, May 24th by the Trump administration falls woefully short of the bipartisan standards the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) has set over the course of our nearly 50 year history. We have worked with Members of Congress and Administrations from both parties since 1969 to hold the Federal government accountable for fulfilling the federal trust responsibility for Native students.
Put simply, this budget does not meet the standards NIEA has set for Native education: the cuts in funding are a stark departure from the FY 2017 Appropriations bill that President Trump signed just a few short weeks ago and would cause real harm to educational opportunities for Native students across the country.
Among the more than $4 billion in cuts, the proposed budget:
  • Eliminates funding for the Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support and Assistance Act and the Native Hawaiian Education Act, which each received more than $31 million in Fiscal Year 2017 funding were eliminated, cutting $65 million in funding for Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian students.   
  • Temporary suspends funding for BIE school Construction and cuts construction funding from $57.8 million to $80.2 million, more than 40% below Fiscal Year 2017 funding levels.
  • Cuts the Indian School Equalization Program (ISEP), the core program for operation of BIE, by $2.4 million to a proposed $398.8 million.
  • Significantly reduces funding for the Johnson O'Malley Program, which provides cultural instruction and materials to Native students. The program was cut by $4.6 million, a more than 30% cut to $10.2 million.
Taken as a whole, the proposed cuts would significantly undermine opportunities for Native students.

To see our full summary table of budget cuts relevant to Native students, please go here.
How NIEA will be Responding to President Trump's Budget?
The Administration's FY 2018 budget proposal is the first step in a six to eight-month process that will include working with both the House and Senate to develop funding for programs that impact Native programs. Final decisions on FY 2018 budget will be made in the fall of this year.

However, given the cuts involved and the stakes for Native students, we must start engaging now.
  • Please call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-2311 to speak with your Congressional member.
  • Tell them we must fully fund the Bureau of Indian Education and restore the cuts to the Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian programs that President Trump eliminated.
Please click here to learn how to contact your Senators and Representatives and for a template script.

Once you have called, please remember that President Trump's proposal is just that-a draft proposal that is not law. The House and Senate will now come up with their drafts over the months leading up to October 1 when decisions will start to be made.

NIEA will continue to advocate with staff and Members of Congress, as well as through outreach to NIEA Members to make sure our voices are heard. We will be relentless in advocating for Native students over the coming five to eight months as funding for the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget is considered and, eventually, finalized.

Please contact Matt de Ferranti at or 202-847-0039 if you have any questions. 
Bureau of Indian Education Slated for Cuts under the Interior's Fiscal Year 2018 Budget
President Trump's budget proposes deep cuts for Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools, a school system that serves our Nation's students who are most in need. NIEA is extremely concerned by the reductions in funding for BIE schools at a time when new BIE leadership is seeking to be more accountable for Native students. NIEA will be advocating for additional resources with our champions in Congress.

Cuts to BIE that we are particularly concerned about include BIE school construction, which freezes all new construction and reduces the overall budget by more than 40% - over $80 million.   
  • BIE School construction has been identified by leaders from both parties as a critical need over the past year and for over a decade.
  • Dilapidated BIE schools were highlighted in GAO reports last fall and this spring - noting that the conditions in Native schools are inadequate and often times dangerous.
Other cuts to BIE are also deeply disturbing. BIE as a whole would be cut by $105.1 million below the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus. Effected programs include reducing the amount of funding that BIE Schools receive for each student enrolled, eliminating juvenile detention education, and cutting broadband for BIE schools.

If you have specific questions about the proposed cuts to BIE, please contact NIEA's Legislative Director, Matt de Ferranti at or 202-847-0039. 
Funding for School Choice, Significant Cuts Proposed for the Department of Education
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed significant cuts for Fiscal Year 2018 that would significantly impact Native students and Native education if enacted. The Administration's budget proposes a more than 12% cut for the Department of Education, to $58 billion, a $9 billion cut from last year's $66 billion.

The cuts that will most impact Native students that concern NIEA are:
  • After school programs, which Native students often benefit from, were eliminated, a cut of $1.2 billion;
  • Teacher support and instruction funding would be eliminated, a cut of $1.2 billion for resources that help teachers prepare to better serve students, through professional and cultural development that is critical for Native students;
  • Funding for Native college students would also be cut: Perkins Loans, along with some funding for Pell Grants and funding for Career and Technical Education, were reduced by more than $4.6 billion as a whole.
School choice-on the other hand-is slated for increased funding that would not serve Native students well. Specifically, the proposed FY 2018 budget includes funding for Secretary DeVos and President Trump's ideas regarding school choice, including $1 billion for a proposal that NIEA opposes to make funding for Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act "portable." The effect of this proposal would be to divert money from schools that serve the largest proportions of students from low-income households. NIEA opposes this policy and will instead be advocating for full funding for Title I. 
NIEA Testifies Before Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Staff
On May 23, NIEA Executive Director Ahniwake Rose testified before the staff for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding Fiscal Year 2018 funding. The small briefing was intended to give staff a chance to ask NIEA's perspective on programs that impact Native students, but are under review outside the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Ms. Rose identified BIE construction as a critical priority. Staff asked several questions regarding BIE construction funding, which earlier that day had been identified for funding cuts in the Trump Administration's released budget.

NIEA highlighted the following items, among other priorities, for Fiscal Year 2018 to enable Native students to thrive in the classroom and beyond:
  • $263.4 million for BIE education construction,
  • $431 million for the Indian School Equalizations, and
  • $7 million for BIE Native language immersion demonstration programs. 
Donate to NIEA
Whether you're an educator, a student, or invested in increasing educational opportunities for Native students, NIEA members help advocate for better policies. Your  contribution will help us continue to be effective advocates, train educators that work with Native students, and close the achievement gap.  To donate, please click HERE.
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