Trump Era

Overview

Education in the Trump Era

The election of Republican Donald Trump as president, coupled with the GOP's success in retaining control of Congress for two more years, appears likely to reshape federal education policy in significant ways, from preschool to college. Already, Republican lawmakers have moved to repeal key Obama administration regulations on school accountability and teacher preparation. The Trump administration made waves by backing away from Obama-era guidance for schools on bathroom access for transgender students.

The election of Republican Donald Trump as president, coupled with the GOP’s success in retaining control of Congress for two more years, appears likely to reshape federal education policy in significant ways, from preschool to college. Already, Republican lawmakers have moved to repeal key Obama administration regulations on school accountability and teacher preparation. The Trump administration made waves by backing away from Obama-era guidance for schools on bathroom access for transgender students. And early signals suggest expanding school choice will be the president’s top educational priority, one that could find favor among GOP lawmakers.

Even before the 2016 election, the bipartisan rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act handed states and localities significantly greater control over school accountability and other aspects of education. In 2017, all states are revamping their accountability systems, which must be approved by the U.S. Department of Education now led by Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Beyond the K-12 level, Congress is overdue in reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. And the Trump administration is widely expected to pivot away from Obama priorities such as Title IX enforcement on sexual assault and increased oversight of for-profit colleges. Other issues that may gain favor include new strategies to pay for college, such as “risk sharing” arrangements, as well as competency-based education and more skills training at community colleges.

Meanwhile, the 2016 elections didn’t just shake up things in Washington. Republicans made further inroads in states, particularly notable given the push to give states and localities greater power over education. Currently, the governors of 33 states are Republican, while just 16 are Democrats and one is Independent. Republicans have what Ballotpedia calls a “trifecta” in 25 states (compared with six for Democrats), where the party controls the governorship and both legislative chambers.

Furthermore, there are plenty of fresh faces in key state positions of power that influence education policy. As Education Week recently noted, half the nation’s state legislatures have at least one new education chairman in 2017, and one-quarter of state superintendents are less than one year into the job.

Latest News

DeVos’ Challenge: Tuning Her Message as New Education Secretary

Few, if any, education secretaries have gotten off to as rocky a start as Betsy DeVos, who took the helm of the U.S. Department of Education last month with opponents ready to pounce.

There was her contentious confirmation hearing, with its much-mocked comment about guns in schools to defend against grizzly bears. Protesters temporarily blocked her first visit to a public school, and a series of perceived gaffes in interviews and speeches drew online outrage and scolding editorials—as well as some off-base criticism.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Trump Budget Signals Education Priorities

President Donald Trump’s first budget blueprint begins to flesh out the areas in which he sees an important federal role in education — most notably expanding school choice — and those he doesn’t. At the same time, it raises questions about the fate of big-ticket items, including aid to improve teacher quality and support after-school programs. 

Latest News

The History of the Office for Civil Rights’ Power

Here is a question nobody asked Betsy DeVos at her confirmation hearing to become the eleventh secretary of education: Is the U.S. Department of Education a civil-rights agency?   The last secretary, John King, thinks so. Over 600 education scholars who protested the nomination of DeVos think so, too.

Member Stories

March 2 – 9
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Chad Livengood of Crain’s Detroit Business reports on how Michigan State Superintendent of Schools Brian Whiston offered an 18-month reprieve to 25 persistently low-performing schools in Detroit facing closure if academics do not improve.


 

As standardized tests in Ohio are ready to begin, Shannon Gilchrist of The Columbus Dispatch looks at whether third-graders are too young to have developed the computer skills to take a timed test.

Latest News

A Tale of Two Betsy DeVoses

Residents of this western Michigan town are having trouble reconciling the Betsy DeVos they know with the Betsy DeVos who serves as President Donald Trump’s controversial education secretary.  

The former is widely seen as pragmatic and generous, even by those who dislike her political leanings and devotion to charter schools. The latter? “Unprepared,” “tone deaf,” and “insulated” were phrases that came up more than once during interviews with people who either know DeVos or her family or are familiar with her dealings in this part of the state.

Latest News

Betsy Devos: President Trump Delivers on Education Promises

President Trump’s first address to the joint session of Congress was clear: promises made, promises kept. The president promised to shake up the status quo in Washington, and he has. From keeping Carrier in the United States to nominating the highly qualified Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, our president continues to follow through on his word.

He’s also delivering on his promises for education.

Latest News

Texas House Education Chief Declares School Choice Bill DOA

The top education policy official in the Texas House said Tuesday that he would not allow the approval of school vouchers this legislative session, a blunt pronouncement that could be fatal to the prospects for legislation that is a priority for many top Republicans in the state.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What’s Ahead for School Choice in the Trump Era?

If anyone doubted that school choice would be a top educational priority for the Trump administration, the Republican president’s first address to a joint session of Congress laid that question to rest.

“I am calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children,” he declared. “These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.”

EWA Radio

White House Rolls Back Guidance on Transgender Students. Episode Extra: “Dear Betsy DeVos …”
EWA Radio: Episode 111

Evie Blad of Education Week discusses President Trump’s decision to rescind Obama-era guidance on accommodations for transgender students. New Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos contends that further consideration and study is needed on the Obama administration’s instructions to districts, including on whether students should be allowed to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity — rather than their gender at birth. DeVos also said the issue is best left up to local schools and states to decide. What does this mean for public schools? Who should decide which bathrooms transgender students should be allowed to use? How will the federal policy shift influence pending legal challenges, including a forthcoming Supreme Court case? 

And in a special addition to this week’s podcast, hear what Chalkbeat readers say they want DeVos to know about public education. Sarah Darville, the education news outlet’s national editor, discusses common themes in reader responses, including an emphasis on the vital role schools play in communities, and the need for greater resources to help students succeed. 

Latest News

Fact Check: DeVos Doesn’t Control Who Gets a ‘Free Lunch’

Critics of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are are wrongly claiming she suggested eliminating free lunches in the National School Lunch Program as part of a recent speech. But “no such thing as a free lunch” is a phrase dating back decades. And DeVos made no mention of school meals in her speech.

Latest News

Yale University Changes Calhoun College Name Post-Trump

Over the weekend, Yale President Peter Salovey announced that the university will give Calhoun College, dedicated to the white supremacist and fervent slavery supporter John Calhoun, a new name: Hopper College, after the renowned computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper.

Latest News

State Superintendent Candidate: Challenger Offered Six Figure Job to Drop Out of Race

A candidate for state superintendent offered an opponent a taxpayer-funded $150,000 job in order to drop out of the race and sought the same for himself if he dropped out, his challenger said Wednesday.

Candidate John Humphries said in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal that during discussions between him and opponent Lowell Holtz, Holtz proposed in writing that either he or Humphries should drop out in exchange for the guaranteed three-year job with the Department of Public Instruction should one of them defeat incumbent Tony Evers in the general election. 

EWA Radio

“The View From Room 205”: Can Schools Conquer Poverty?
EWA Radio: Episode 109

Peabody Award-winning radio journalist Linda Lutton of WBEZ in Chicago discusses her new documentary following a class of fourth graders in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Is a “no excuses” school model a realistic approach for kids whose families are struggling to provide basics like shelter and food? How does Chicago Public Schools’ emphasis on high-stakes testing play out at William Penn Elementary? How can education reporters make the most of their access to classrooms, teachers, students, and families? And what lessons from “Room 205” could apply to the ongoing debate over how to best lift students out of poverty?

Latest News

Governors, State Lawmakers Roll Out School Choice Proposals

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos—now the nation’s most visible school choice advocate—takes the helm at a time when Republicans control the governor’s house or the state legislature in 44 states and have full control of the executive and legislative branches in 25 states.

Latest News

Protesters Briefly Block Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s Visit to a D.C. School

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos encountered protesters Friday morning outside a D.C. middle school and found her way barred as she tried to enter through a side door, forcing her to retreat into a government vehicle as a man shouted “Shame!”

Eventually, DeVos got inside for an event starting at about 10 a.m. that included the D.C. schools chancellor and others. The event was closed to the media.

But the demonstration outside Jefferson Middle School Academy was a further sign that DeVos remains a polarizing figure in the education world days after she took office.

Latest News

Betsy Devos Made Her First Visit to a School as Education Secretary: Howard University

Betsy DeVos, just sworn in as education secretary after Vice President Pence cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate to confirm her appointment, visited Howard University on Thursday to meet with university leaders.

It was her first visit as secretary. On Friday, she visited Jefferson Academy, a public school in Washington, where protesters greeted her outside the school.

Latest News

Betsy Devos Can Change Education In America Without Doing A Thing

Education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos narrowly squeaked through the Senate on Monday, winning confirmation by a vote of 51 to 50 after Vice President Mike Pence weighed in to break the tie.

DeVos is the most controversial education secretary ever. She was confirmed with fewer votes than any Cabinet secretary in history. If Democrats hadn’t abolished the filibuster on executive branch nominees in 2013, DeVos’s opposition would have relegated her to the heap of Cabinet might-have-beens.

Latest News

What Educators, Advocacy Groups Are Saying About Betsy Devos’ Rocky Confirmation

Education and advocacy groups reacted swiftly to Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Education Tuesday, with supporters praising the West Michigan native and opponents questioning whether she’ll promote school choice at the expense of traditional public schools.

DeVos was confirmed following a marathon 24-hour debate in the Senate, where Democrats decried the West Michigan native as inexperienced and said her support of taxpayer-funded vouchers and charter schools have undermined traditional public schools.