How a $1 billion plan to boost overseas education has gone up in flames
NEW YORK — The Education Department is facing an embarrassing $1.3 billion loss from its education investments in countries including India and China, with the department’s largest overseas investments in those countries ending in December.
In a scathing letter sent to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the agency said it will need to reduce the investments to $700 million in the coming year, a drop of almost $800 million.
“These are the same countries where we had invested billions in our education programs, and in the process we created a generation of highly educated young people that could one day go to work or study here,” Education Department spokeswoman Sara Smith said.
DeVos’ budget requests for the next fiscal year, which begins Sept. 30, include $1,100 for every $1 invested.
At a meeting of her subcommittee this week, DeVos said she will continue to invest in education as long as the U.S. remains competitive and has “strong leadership” in education.
She said she wants to make sure that she is investing in the most effective way possible to provide a great education to the next generation.
Critics have accused DeVos of being too slow in implementing reforms and of having little control over her department’s investments.
The U.K.-based International Centre for Education Research, a research institute based in London, said in a report released this month that DeVos’s priorities are not necessarily aligned with those of education experts in the United States.
More than 2,000 U.N. programs, including those focused on gender equality and racial equality, are being cut, it said.
It added that nearly $3 billion of the $6.4 billion that DeVos has proposed will be used to support foreign aid programs.
Many of the programs are not based on U.L.G.T.s or the UGTT (Universal Grammar and Literacy Training) standards that have been used to guide educational systems in developing countries.
But, the report said, “DeVoes focus is on supporting these programs in the ULGTT system, where they have the strongest potential to benefit the country most.”
The government’s budget request includes a proposal to use $3.8 billion to help establish and expand U.R.A.T., the UGGT system for young people.
U.S.-based educational research and development company CORE Education says in a statement that DeVos’ proposed education investment plan would “continue to erode funding for educational innovation and quality.”
A spokeswoman for DeVos’ office declined to comment on the letter.
DeVoses office has been under fire in recent months over what critics say are poor priorities for education.
She has proposed a $10 billion boost to the federal budget for higher education and a $2 billion cut to Pell Grants, which are awarded to low-income students.