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.

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.

Latest News

What’s at Stake for Schools in the Debt Ceiling Debate

Have you missed fights over whether to increase the U.S. government’s borrowing limit? You might be getting a special treat soon. Many education advocates, however, likely aren’t so thrilled.

The recurring squabble over raising the debt ceiling has roots in 2011 when, in exchange for increasing the borrowing limit, Congress imposed mandatory spending caps on government spending. The big budget legacy of that 2011 fight, known as sequestration, is still with us. 

EWA Radio

When Students Attend White-Supremacy Rallies, How Should Colleges Respond?
EWA Radio: Episode 136

In the aftermath of the white supremacy gathering in Charlottesville, Va., some universities are under pressure to take action against students who attend rallies organized by hate groups. Nick Roll of Inside Higher Ed discusses the situation and how postsecondary institutions are responding. How do universities balance respect for free speech with concerns about cultivating an inclusive campus environment?

Latest News

University of Texas at Austin Removes Confederate Statues in Overnight Operation

With little warning, the University of Texas at Austin removed three Confederate monuments from its campus overnight, 10 days before classes are set to begin. Work to remove statues of two Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, and the Confederate cabinet member John Reagan began late Sunday and continued into the early morning. A statue of James Stephen Hogg, Texas’ 20th governor, was also being removed.

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?

Latest News

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.

Latest News

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.