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Education Department’s Budget Proposal Includes First Ever Teacher Voucher Program

The U.S. Department of Education released President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request Monday, which includes an experimental teacher voucher program.

The goal of the vouchers is to allow teachers to receive stipends, which can be used toward training opportunities they see as fit. This is the first time such a program has been proposed, according to a Monday Education Department press statement.

Nearly $300 million would go toward Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grants, with new funds going toward professional development stipends that could be used by teachers who qualify.

“I’ve spoken with hundreds of teachers as I’ve traveled across the country and hosted teacher roundtables at the Department, and I heard far too often how limited most teachers are in their own professional development,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in the news statement. “They have little to no say in the courses they take. They have very little freedom to explore subject areas that interest them.”

Another $200 million would go toward Teacher and School Leader (TSL) Incentive Grants, which includes high-quality mentoring and residency programs for new teachers as well as increased compensation for effective teachers in high-need fields as part of teacher elevation efforts.

The proposal also cuts down on 29 programs that are either ineffective, not addressing national needs or could be better supported at the state or local levels, according to the Education Department.

Other initiatives the budget proposal touches upon include school safety, expanding school choice accessibility and “promoting workforce development for the 21st century.”

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