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

The Trump Effect in College Admissions: Rural Outreach Increases, International Recruitment Gets Harder

A sizable share of college admission directors say they have intensified efforts to recruit in rural areas and find more white students from low-income families following Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the 2016 presidential election, according to a survey from the online news outlet Inside Higher Ed.

Latest News

Counting DACA Students

How many students are affected by President Trump’s decision to end the program that shields young, undocumented immigrants, ages 15 and up, from deportation?

Counting students who have received approval for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) isn’t easy. The reason is that schools, both high schools and colleges, generally don’t ask students if they have DACA status. So the data aren’t collected. 

Latest News

Why This President Wants Betsy DeVos at His College’s Commencement

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was met with jeers and boos during her commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University in May. Dozens of graduates stood from their seats on the floor of the packed arena and turned their backs to her in protest. Many of the graduates and their families were upset that Ms. DeVos was invited to speak on a day when the primary focus should have been on them.

Agenda

Covering Campus Conflict in the Time of Trump: Agenda
Atlanta • October 2–3, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

10 a.m.: (Optional) Journalists’ Tour of CNN

CNN has graciously agreed to give 20 EWA members a journalists-only tour of their newsroom, and a chance to talk with members of CNN’s newsgathering, digital and data analysis teams to learn about their state-of-the art techniques of building traffic. The tour will start at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 2 at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters, located at One CNN Center, Atlanta, GA 30303. Please be at the entryway at 9:45 a.m. so you can go through security.

Key Coverage

Private Geography: Vouching Towards Bethlehem

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is from Grand Rapids, Michigan. So is This American Life producer Susan Burton. During Devos’s nomination hearings, critics accused her of never having set foot in a public school. But it turns out that years ago she did—as a volunteer mentor. Susan returned to Grand Rapids to find out what DeVos’s experience in a public school in her hometown can tell us about her vision for education in this country.

Latest News

5 Former Education Secretaries: Keep DACA Intact

The Obama-era program that shields nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation just got a powerful endorsement: Five former U.S. education secretaries, both Republicans and Democrats, have written to Congress asking lawmakers to keep the program intact.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Can Fresh Attention to Rural Schools Fix Old Problems?

Telling the stories of the nation’s rural schools means better understanding what they offer the roughly 8.9 million students enrolled.

It also involves understanding the communities around those schools, the students attending them, and the challenges they face, a panel of educators and journalists explained recently during EWA’s National Seminar in Washington, D.C.

And one of the most important stories to tell about rural education involves inequality, said Alan Richard, a longtime education writer and editor.

EWA Radio

The End of DACA?
EWA Radio: Episode 138

With the Trump administration’s announcement of plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), a key focus is on college students who fear deportation. But ending DACA, which offers protections to roughly 800,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children, has significant repercussions for K-12 school communities as well.  

Latest News

What Major Universities Had to Say About Trump’s Move to Roll Back DACA

Shortly after the Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it would rescind a federal program that offered legal protections to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, dozens of universities declared their virtually unanimous opposition to the move. Major colleges and higher-ed systems and associations issued a cascade of critical statements — a wave of condemnation reminiscent of higher ed’s response to President Trump’s travel ban.

EWA Radio

Houston Schools Reporter: After Harvey, ‘Everyone’s in Survival Mode’
EWA Radio: Episode 137

Public school students in Houston — the nation’s seventh-largest district — had expected to start a new academic year this week. Instead, many of their campuses were converted into emergency shelters, and many students as well as educators are now homeless. Shelby Webb of The Houston Chronicle discusses the latest developments, and shares some personal perspectives on reporting under emotionally charged circumstances.

Latest News

Life After No Child Left Behind: Washington State to Submit Plan for New Federal K-12 Law

At the end of the No-Child-Left-Behind era, nearly every Washington school was labeled as “failing.”

When the new federal K-12 education law — called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) — takes effect this coming school year, parents won’t receive letters that their child’s school “needs improvement” because the school didn’t meet federal test-score targets, like some did before. Under ESSA, there are no federal test-score targets.

Latest News

Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago

Even after decades of affirmative action, black and Hispanic students are more underrepresented at the nation’s top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago, according to a New York Times analysis.

The share of black freshmen at elite schools is virtually unchanged since 1980. Black students are just 6 percent of freshmen but 15 percent of college-age Americans, as the chart below shows.

Latest News

Unified Against Trump, the Country’s Would-be Democratic Governors Are Divided on Education

Coming to a Democratic primary near you: a clash over education issues.

In several big states, governors who have supported charter schools are on their way out or facing a re-election fight in 2018. And while the party is united in its distaste for President Donald Trump, candidates vying for state leadership from California to Georgia are split on key education issues.