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Proposed cuts will weaken education

The bottom line: President Donald Trump’s proposed $9 billion cut to the Department of Education would cut the number of teachers in schools.

That’s short-sighted.

Education is an economic driver, a sound investment.

The further one goes in school, the higher the average salary. That’s more money for families to spend. And consumer spending is the fuel of the modern economy.

It is an effective way to fight unemployment. In 2016, the unemployment rate for a high school dropout was 7.4 percent. For a graduate, it was 5.2 percent. For someone with a bachelor’s degree, it was 2.7 percent.

Mississippi is near the bottom in per-student spending and it lags the United States average for high school graduates and those with bachelor’s degrees. It has a higher than average dropout rate as well.

But we are starting to turn things around. The state’s dropout rate declined sharply since 2011. It has more graduates. Its test scores are improving.

We fear cuts proposed by the White House, particularly those to Title II, money spent to recruit, train and retain teachers, would slow or halt that momentum.

We know we have to get federal spending under control. We know agencies must shrink their budgets, root out inefficient programs and cut waste.

The Department of Education is no exception. But we don’t think the president should punish communities so willing to help themselves.

If Congress and the president find no alternative to cutting the Title I through Title IV money, we urge districts to look for any other avenue of savings other than cutting teaching positions.

—The Sun Herald