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.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Do Teachers Really Think About School Discipline Reform?

Not long ago, a student who got into a fight at school would likely face an automatic suspension. Now, in schools across the country, that student might be back in class the next day.

That change is part of an expansive effort to rethink the way public schools respond to misbehavior. In many schools, punitive measures like suspension and expulsion are being replaced with alternative strategies that aim to keep students in the classroom and address underlying issues like trauma and stress.

Latest News

Education Department to Erase Debts of Teachers, Fix Troubled Grant Program

The Education Department is releasing a plan Sunday to help these teachers who have been wrongly hit with debts, sometimes totaling tens of thousands of dollars, because of a troubled federal grant program.

The move comes after an almost year-long NPR investigation that brought pressure on the department. In May, the Education Department launched a top-to-bottom review of the program. Amid continued reporting, 19 U.S. senators sent a letter, citing NPR, saying the problems should be fixed.

Latest News

Florida Schools Cover Up Crimes: Rapes, Guns and More

From rapes to arsons to guns, Florida’s school districts are hiding countless crimes that take place on campus, defying state laws and leaving parents with the false impression that children are safer than they are.

Many serious offenses — and even minor ones — are never reported to the state as required, an investigation by the South Florida Sun Sentinel found. A staggering number of schools report no incidents at all — no bullying, no trespassing, nothing.

Key Coverage

Rally Had Minor Impact on Admissions as UVa Addresses Financial Needs and Its Own History

The University of Virginia can seem like a textbook college campus: white columns and porticos, long lawns and statues of Thomas Jefferson and Homer.

In 2017, though, UVa’s Rotunda steps were transformed into a maelstrom as white supremacists carried torches and attacked protesters. For months, the school was roiled by protests and political soul-searching.

Seminar

72nd EWA National Seminar
Baltimore • May 6-8, 2019

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This year’s event in Baltimore, hosted by John Hopkins University’s School of Education, will explore an array of timely topics of interest to journalists from across the country, with a thematic focus on student success, safety, and well-being.

Latest News

Betsy Devos to the Rescue: For-profit Colleges See a Savior in Secretary

The rejection letter was harsh.

Page after page, an accrediting agency ticked off all the problems at Virginia College, a large chain of for-profit schools with dwindling enrollment. There would be no seal of approval, the accreditor declared, no imprimatur necessary to participate in the federal student loan program that is the lifeblood of most colleges and universities.

But it turned out that Virginia College — and other for-profit schools — had a friend in high places.

Seminar

Covering Higher Education’s New Political Landscape

A big increase in college student voter turnout helped flip the U.S. House of Representatives to Democratic control and elected scores of new state and local officials. Now, it’s clear that higher education will be shaped by—and will shape—the new political landscape of 2019.

To help journalists cover the impact of the midterms on education beyond high school, the Education Writers Association is holding a two-day intensive training seminar January 28-29 in Washington, D.C.

Latest News

Education Dept. Proposes Enhanced Protection For Students Accused Of Sexual Assault

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced sweeping rules on how colleges handle cases of sexual assault and harassment that she says will fix a “failed” and “shameful” system that has been unfair to accused students. In what the administration is calling a “historic process,” the proposed rules aim to significantly enhance legal protections for the accused and reflect a sentiment expressed by President Trump that men are unfairly being presumed guilty.

Latest News

How a Tax Regulation Could Cripple School Vouchers

The IRS has proposed limiting the federal deduction of contributions made to charitable organizations. The move is an attempt by the White House to target a handful of states – most of them wealthy and Democratic – seeking a way around the limits on state and local tax deductions included the new tax overhaul.

Latest News

School Safety Tops Young People’s List of Election Concerns. But Will It Lead Them to Vote?

The February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and subsequent student activism around school safety and gun control are fueling young people’s political engagement ahead of next week’s midterm elections.

“We can argue all we want, but the only way we win the argument [for more gun control] is when we go and we vote on these decisions,” Mei-Ling Ho-Shing, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said at a conference Friday.

Latest News

Midterms Could Mean Big Changes for State ESSA Plans

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos may have approved every state’s vision for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act—but that doesn’t mean the plans are all done and dusted.

States can still make changes to their plans. And after the midterm elections in November, many of them may want to. (To be sure, DeVos and company will have to approve major revisions. The U.S. Department of Education is expected to say more about what that process will look in coming weeks and months.)

Latest News

Teachers Running for Office Face Tough Choice: Go Negative or Not?

With an unprecedented number of teachers running for state office during this contentious election season, many candidates will need to make a tough choice: Knowing that their students are watching, are they willing to go negative in their campaign advertisements?

For many teachers running for state legislature, their students are never far from their minds. Many say they decided to run in the first place because they wanted to improve the quality of public education for their students.

Key Coverage

Teachers in America: No Matter Where They Work, They Feel Disrespect

It’s shortly after dawn when Edward Lawson, one of America’s 3.2 million public school teachers, pulls his car into the parking lot of Thomas Elementary in Racine, Wisconsin. He cuts the engine, pulls out his cell phone and calls his principal. They begin to pray.

Lawson is a full-time substitute based at a school with full-time problems: only 1 in 10 students is proficient in reading and math.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education Dept. to Change College Scorecard, Be Less ‘Prescriptive’ With Accreditors, Officials Say

Federal education officials say they want to help students make more informed decisions about where to go to school, what college will cost, and what return on investment to expect – reflecting U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s vision for reducing regulation of higher education while improving the public’s ability to exercise school choice.

Latest News

Ole Miss Moves Swiftly to Address Latest Racial Controversy

The university’s swift response was a striking contrast to recent events in which it was forced to reckon with racial controversy on campus. In 2012, racial epithets against President Barack Obama were chanted at a student protest.

In 2014, a noose was placed around a statue of James Meredith, the university’s first black student, whose enrollment in 1962 led to deadly rioting on campus. There were no immediate attempts in the aftermath of those events to open up talks between students and the administration.

Latest News

A Month Before the Election, Pa. Gubernatorial Candidates Continue Trading Barbs Over Education

Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidates Tom Wolf and Scott Wagner have continued to trade barbs over education policy.

Wolf has hit Wagner twice in recent weeks, first by connecting the former state senator to lightning-rod U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

DeVos’s cabinet nomination drew fierce opposition, particularly from teachers’ unions, a key Democratic constituency. Soon after the most recent campaign filings, Wolf’s camp seized on the DeVos connection in a press release about “DeVos’s dark money group.”

Latest News

Idaho Teachers’ Union Endorses GOP Candidate for Re-election Bid to Congress

For the second time this year, the state’s largest teachers’ union has thrown its support behind a prominent Republican candidate.

On Wednesday, the Idaho Education Association endorsed U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson in the Nov. 6 election.

In announcing the endorsement, the IEA touted the 20-year incumbent’s work on the House Appropriations Committee.