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 Promises ‘The Most Ambitious Expansion of Education Choice In Our Nation’s History’ — But Offers No Details

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos promised Monday evening that President Trump would propose “the most ambitious expansion of education choice in our nation’s history,” but she offered no details about the administration’s plans.

Speaking in Indianapolis before a friendly audience of school voucher proponents, she instead laid out a moral case to dramatically transform American education — and improve young people’s prospects — by expanding school choice.

Latest News

Do Charter Schools Serve Special Needs Kids? The Jury is Out

The Trump administration has been promoting school choice, saying it can also benefit special needs students. But charter schools, funded with public money, often are criticized for keeping out students with disabilities because they may be more expensive to educate and because they tend to have lower academic results. A 2012 federal study, the most recent data available, said students with disabilities accounted for 11 percent of those in traditional public schools and 8 percent in charter schools, although figures vary greatly across states and cities.

Latest News

What Good Is New Summer Pell Money if Students Can’t Use It?

The semester is winding down and summer is coming, but don’t get too excited about that recently passed summer Pell budget – it looks like it won’t become a reality for most students until summer of 2018.

Educators cheered a budget extension passed by Congress last month, which restored “year-round” Pell. The change is huge for low-income students, who can now get summer college courses covered by the needs-based federal financial aid program. That can make it more likely that they’ll graduate.

Latest News

Trump’s First Full Education Budget: Deep Cuts to Public School Programs in Pursuit of School Choice

Funding for college work-study programs would be cut in half, public-service loan forgiveness would end and hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health, advanced coursework and other services would vanish under a Trump administration plan to cut $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives, according to budget documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Latest News

Epic Changes Could Come to L.A. Schools After Charter School Movement’s Big Win

Supporters of charter schools appeared to win control of the Los Angeles school board Tuesday, a watershed moment with huge implications for how students are taught in America’s second-largest school district.

The charter school movement has long been a major force in Los Angeles school circles. But the victory Tuesday night by pro-charter forces — who dramatically outspent rivals in what was the most expensive election in school board history — gives them the opportunity to reshape the district.

Latest News

With School Vouchers, Who Benefits And Who’s Left Behind? Indiana’s Program Offers Lessons

Wendy Robinson wants to make one thing very clear.

As the long-serving superintendent of Fort Wayne public schools, Indiana’s largest district, she is not afraid of competition from private schools.

“We’ve been talking choice in this community and in this school system for almost 40 years,” Robinson says. Her downtown office sits in the shadow of the city’s grand, Civil War-era Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. In Fort Wayne, a parking lot is the only thing that separates the beating heart of Catholic life from the brains of the city’s public schools.

Latest News

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Commencement At Bethune-Cookman University Draws Protests

Fifty thousand signatures on protest petitions. Calls on the president of the university to resign. People on Twitter saying they’re mailing back their degrees. It’s probably not what the leadership of Bethune-Cookman University was expecting when they announced their speaker for today’s commencement ceremony.

But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos seems to bring a unique level of controversy almost everywhere she goes. And that’s especially true when it comes to historically black colleges like Bethune-Cookman.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Trump Eyes Tax Code to Tackle Child Care

The tax code is complicated, the child-care system is fragmented, and President Donald Trump’s policy proposals can seem to change on a whim. And so, making sense of how tax reform can make child care more “accessible and affordable,” as Trump has vowed, is no simple task.

The need to provide relief for families shouldering the high cost of child care has emerged as one of the few points of agreement between the White House and Democrats in Congress, but the two sides differ on just how to do that.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Advocates Fear Impact of Trump Budget on Arts Education

President Donald Trump’s plans to eliminate some big-tickets items in the federal education budget — such as aid for after-school and teacher quality programs – have sparked sharp criticism. At the same time, supporters of the arts are rallying against the president’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts — which provides some grants for arts education.

Latest News

Devos Praises This Voucher-like Program. Here’s What it Means for School Reform.

Florida has channeled billions of taxpayer dollars into scholarships for poor children to attend private schools over the past 15 years, using tax credits to build a laboratory for school choice that the Trump administration holds up as a model for the nation. But there is scant evidence that these students fare better academically than their peers in public schools.

Latest News

2 Education Dept. Picks Raise Fears on Civil Rights Enforcement

A lawyer who represented Florida State University in an explosive sexual assault case and another lawyer who during the 2016 presidential campaign accused Hillary Clinton of enabling sexual predators have been chosen for key roles in the Department of Education, raising fears that the agency could pull back from enforcing civil rights in schools and on college campuses.

EWA Radio

Why (and How) Vermont Schools Are Getting Personal
EWA Radio: Episode 116

Some school districts are experimenting with ways to get students more engaged in their own learning, and to connect their individual interests to long-term goals. John Tulenko, a contributor to The Hechinger Report, visited Vermont, where a statewide investment in personalized learning is starting to gain traction. What kinds of learning opportunities are students creating for themselves? How are teachers responding to the instructional shift?

Latest News

Judge Approves $25 Million Settlement Of Trump University Lawsuit

A federal judge has approved a $25 million settlement deal between President Trump and students who paid for Trump University real estate seminars, bringing lengthy litigation to a close.

The deal, which calls for Trump to reimburse the students who say they were defrauded, was struck in November but needed approval from U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. He signed off on the settlement Friday in San Diego.

Trump doesn’t admit any wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement.

Latest News

DeVos Says Accountability Systems Could Promote School Choice

The Department of Education is considering rejecting states’ proposals for new accountability systems if they do not include options that empower parents or provide them with additional educational choices for their children.

“I think there’s certainly going to be a lot of discussion and back and forth as we go through this process,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Wednesday in answering a question about whether her agency would reject a state’s accountability proposal if she views it as “antithetical to serving parents’ interests.”

Latest News

Devos Compares School Choice Fight to Uber vs. Taxis; Decries State of Test Scores

At a Tuesday event hosted by the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children and Families, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a speech compared the the response of the education establishment to taxi services undercut by services like Uber and Lyft.

“Just like the traditional taxi service revolted against ride-sharing, so too does the education establishment feel threatened by the rise of school choice,” DeVos said. (It’s not the first time she’s raised Uber in the context of educational innovation, or the lack thereof.)

Latest News

Ivanka Trump, Education Secretary DeVos Promote STEM Careers

Ivanka Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday exhorted young girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, saying those fields will provide the jobs and innovation for the future.

Their tour of the National Air and Space Museum with a group of middle school students came as the Trump administration proposed further cuts to education and science, drawing harsh criticism from teachers’ unions and others.

Latest News

Do Vouchers Give Kids Better Educations? Ohio Test Results Are Mixed

The school voucher programs that some federal and state officials want to expand have mixed test results in Ohio that make it unclear how much more students learn than if they had stayed in their local public schools. Ohio’s voucher programs, which give families grants to help pay tuition at private schools, have a low bar to clear to look successful. But the private schools receiving voucher dollars have mixed results, even when compared to these “failing” public schools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Trump Begins to Flesh Out School Choice Agenda, But Questions Remain

There was no missing the symbolism in President Donald Trump’s first school visit since taking office — a stop at St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida, this month.

St. Andrew is “one of the many parochial schools dedicated to the education of some of our most disadvantaged children,” Trump noted, and it’s been helped along by school choice policy.