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

New Data Explain Republican Loss of Confidence in Higher Education

Not only do Republicans and Democrats have different levels of confidence in higher education, but they are coming at the issue by focusing on different issues, a new poll by Gallup shows. Republicans who distrust higher education focus on campus politics, while the smaller share of Democrats who distrust higher education tend to focus on rising college prices, the pollster found.

Latest News

After Charlottesville Violence, Colleges Brace for More Clashes

After a planned speech in February by the right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos attracted demonstrators who started fires and shattered windows, the University of California, Berkeley realized it had a major hole in its event planning.

“We did not have enough police officers,” said Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor for public affairs at Berkeley.

Latest News

U. of Florida Denies White Supremacist Richard Spencer’s Request for Event Space

The University of Florida has denied the National Policy Institute’s request to rent event space for Richard Spencer, the white supremacist who leads the organization, to speak on campus, the university’s president said in a statementon Wednesday.

The university denied the request after the violent weekend on the University of Virginia’s campus highlighted potential safety risks for Florida’s campus, the statement said.  On social media, the city of Gainesville, Fla., was dubbed “the next battlefield” for violent protests from hate groups.

EWA Radio

On the Menu: Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts and School Nutrition
EWA Radio: Episode 135

Tovin Lapan of The Hechinger Report visited Greenville, Miss., to examine how President Trump’s proposed budget cuts could impact rural school communities that depend heavily on federal aid for after-school and student nutrition programs. What does research show about the connections between connecting students’ eating habits and test scores?

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Beyond a President’s Worst Fears, a Mob With Torches Arrived

Two nights before a throng of white nationalists descended upon the University of Virginia, carrying lit torches toward what would become a violent melee, Teresa A. Sullivan described her ominous misgivings to a colleague over dinner.

 A violent protest on Friday night would be the preamble to a raucous demonstration in downtown Charlottesville on Saturday that left a young woman dead and exposed the fractures of a nation that is still grappling with racial divisions that have plagued it for hundreds of years.

Latest News

AP Interview: DeVos Says She Should Have Decried Racism More

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday distanced herself from her comment earlier this year about the nation’s historically black colleges and universities being pioneers of school choice, saying that in the past “there were no choices” for African-Americans in higher education.

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ESSA’s New High School Testing Flexibility: What’s The Catch?

When the Every Student Succeeds Act passed, one of the things that educators were most excited about was the chance to cut down on the number of tests kids have to take, Specifically, the law allows some districts to offer a nationally recognized college-entrance exam instead of the state test for accountability.

But that flexibility could be more complicated than it appears on paper.

Latest News

Justice Dept. Plan To Attack Colleges’ Race Preferences Stirs Concerns

Education advocates are reacting with dismay to a report that President Donald Trump’s administration is recruiting lawyers within the U.S. Department of Justice for an initiative to investigate and potentially sue colleges and universities over racial preferences in admissions that discriminate against white applicants.

Latest News

Affirmative Action Battle Has A New Focus: Asian-Americans

By most standards, Austin Jia holds an enviable position. A rising sophomore at Duke, Mr. Jia attends one of the top universities in the country, setting him up for success.

But with his high G.P.A., nearly perfect SAT score and activities — debate team, tennis captain and state orchestra — Mr. Jia believes he should have had a fair shot at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania. Those Ivy League colleges rejected him after he applied in the fall of 2015.

Latest News

Justice Dept. To Take On Affirmative Action In College Admissions

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.

The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

More Efforts Proposed in Congress to Help Undocumented Youth

"Interviewing DREAMers" panel at EWA's 2016 National Seminar in Boston

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — or DACA — continues to make headlines, with several bills introduced in Congress this month aimed at protecting undocumented young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and providing them with a path to citizenship.

DACA provides recipients access to higher education, putting educators on the front lines of the debate over undocumented youth. Many colleges and universities have created special websites or designated personnel to help DACA students navigate college and feel safe on campus.

Latest News

‘I Think That’s Blood Money’: Arne Duncan Pushed Charters To Reject Funds From Trump Admin If Budget Cuts Approved

For left-of-center education reformers, the proposed Trump budget amounted to a devil’s bargain.

They could support the budget plan, which would give hundreds of millions of dollars to charter schools. But they would have to do so knowing it slashed education spending across the board, including money meant for poor students.

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Black Colleges Still Waiting

The White House today marked a milestone in leadership on historically black colleges and universities, although probably not the kind President Trump had in mind when he promised in February that support of those institutions would be an “absolute priority.”

A new administration hasn’t made it to August without having named a leader of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities since that office was launched under President Carter. But Trump has not named a leader for the office.

EWA Radio

Betsy DeVos: Many Questions, Few Answers
EWA Radio: Episode 133

Lisa Miller, an associate editor at New York magazine, discusses her new profile of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Miller discusses the unwillingness of people close to DeVos to discuss her on the record — including current Department of Education employees  — made this one of the most challenging profiles she’s ever written. What do we know about DeVos’ vision for the nation’s public schools that we didn’t know six months ago?

Latest News

What Has Betsy DeVos Actually Done After Nearly Six Months In Office?

When U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos came into office, many in the education community were terrified the billionaire school choice advocate would quickly use her new perch to privatize education and run roughshod over traditional public schools.

Maybe they shouldn’t have been quite so worried. Nearly six months into her new job, a politically hamstrung DeVos is having a tough time getting her agenda off the ground.

Latest News

6 Problems The NAACP Has With Charter Schools — And 5 Of Its Ideas For How To Reshape The Sector

After calling for a temporary ban on new charter schools last year, the NAACP has revealed what would it would take to get the civil rights group to support the privately run, publicly funded sector.

The lengthy report, released Wednesday, allows for the fact that some charters are doing well, but also relates an exhaustive list of concerns. About 5 percent of the country’s public school students attend charters, with an even larger share of black students, the focus of the NAACP report.

Latest News

Trump Administration Advances School Vouchers Despite Scant Evidence

The concept of vouchers originated with economist Milton Friedman. In 1955 he argued that the government should not run schools but instead offer parents educational stipends.

Vouchers are the centerpiece of the Department of Education’s school reform plan. Until now, Washington, D.C., has been home to the only federally funded voucher program in the U.S.

A handful of other cities and states have experimented with small programs. Studies have found mixed to negative results in reading and math but higher high school graduation rates.

Latest News

House Republicans At Odds With Trump’s Proposed Higher Education Cuts

House Republicans issued a 2018 budget bill Tuesday afternoon that rejects several higher education cuts proposed by President Trump but upholds plans to pull billions of dollars in reserves out of the Pell Grant program for needy college students.

Ahead of a markup slated for Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee released the full funding report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies that provides money for programs placed on the chopping block in the White House budget.

EWA Radio

Scoop! High School Students Interview Defense Secretary Mattis
EWA Radio: Episode 131

Teddy Fischer and Jane Gormley of Mercer Island High School in Washington State discuss how they landed a lengthy Q&A with U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who has given few interviews since joining President Trump’s cabinet. Fischer, a rising junior, and Gormley, the immediate past editor of the school’s student newspaper, worked with their journalism class and faculty advisor to prepare for the 45-minute conversation on Memorial Day.

Latest News

Trump Wants to Spend Millions More on School Vouchers. But What’s Happened to the Millions Already Spent?

Congress dedicates $15 million a year to a program that helps low-income D.C. students pay tuition at private schools, but it’s impossible for taxpayers to find out where their money goes: The administrator of the D.C. voucher program refuses to say how many students attend each school or how many public dollars they receive.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Trump Era Serves Up ‘Teachable Moments’ for Character Ed.

Days after Donald Trump won the White House, the Brookings Institution published an essay suggesting the 2016 presidential election should serve as a “Sputnik moment” for character education.

The campaign’s “extraordinary vitriol and divisiveness” offers a strong argument for a “renewed emphasis on schools’ role in developing children as caring, empathetic citizens,” wrote Brookings scholar Jon Valant.

Latest News

Small Schools May Be Exempt From Accountability Under Essa Plan

Up to 16 percent of Idaho high schools may be exempt from certain accountability provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

With just weeks remaining before a major federal deadline, state education officials are debating data reporting requirements that are likely to affect which schools get flagged for improvement — and become eligible for an increase in federal funding.