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

One Texas Town, Two School Districts, Clashing Mask Policies: How Science and Politics Collided in New Braunfels’ Classrooms

In what quickly became a conversation about science, personal liberty, and the role of government, the town’s two school boards, New Braunfels ISD and Comal ISD, landed on opposite sides of the face covering debate earlier this month after Gov. Greg Abbott announced the statewide mask mandate would end March 10.

Latest News

A County Turns Against Its College

In Kootenai County, as in counties across America, disdain for colleges is thriving among people on the right and far right. For years, locals have made bogeymen out of the faculty, characterizing them as radicals with leftist agendas, committed to indoctrinating students.

Read the full story here.

Seminar

74th EWA National Seminar
Virtual, May 2-5, 2021

EWA 74th National Seminar text graphic

The Education Writers Association’s 74th National Seminar will focus on the theme of “Now What? Reporting on Education Amid Uncertainty.” Four afternoons of conversations, training and presentations will give attendees deeper understanding of these crises, as well as tools, skills and context to help them better serve their communities — and advance their careers. 

To be held May 2-5, 2021, the seminar will feature education newsmakers, including leaders, policy makers, researchers, practitioners and journalists. And it will offer practical data and other skills training. 

Latest News

Trump’s ‘Patriotic Education’ Report Excuses Founding Fathers for Owning Slaves and Likens Progressives to Mussolini

President Trump’s “patriotic education” commission released a report on Martin Luther King Day that equates American progressives with European fascists and says it is “untrue” that the Founding Fathers were hypocrites for enslaving people while calling for equality in the nation’s founding documents.

Read the full story here.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

COVID-19 Disruptions Raise Questions on Future of Testing, Accountability

One of former boxer Mike Tyson’s most famous maxims is that everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.

In the 2020-21 academic year, standardized testing — and just about every other aspect of school — is “getting punched in the face by COVID,” said Scott Marion, the executive director of the Center for Assessment, invoking the heavyweight champion at a panel on testing and accountability during the Education Writers Association’s 2020 National Seminar.

EWA Radio

‘Left Behind’ By Remote Learning
In Baltimore and other cities, COVID-19 school closures are widening opportunity gaps for vulnerable students
(EWA Radio: Episode 249)

Steindorf Steam School Sign indicates school Is closed

Was the decision to close schools and send students home for remote learning influenced more by politics than the science of what would keep kids safe? That’s the central argument made by ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis in a new story co-published with The New Yorker. MacGillis, who tells the story in part through the experiences of a 12-year-old in his hometown of Baltimore, shows how vulnerable Black, brown, and poor children are most likely to face long-term consequences for lost learning time.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

The Top 11 Higher Ed Stories Likely to Make Headlines This Year
Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik highlights COVID, Title IX, affirmative action and more

COVID-19 will continue to be a major story topic for the 2020-21 school year, but reporters should also look at the future of affirmative action and race on college campuses, according to Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik.

Jaschik, veteran higher education journalist and editor, listed his top 11 topics he thinks every higher education reporter should be ready to cover.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Understanding How Race Affects Reporting Is Crucial for Education Journalists
Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones to white reporters: Study race intensely

The fusillade of insults and threats aimed at The New York Times Magazine’s “The 1619 Project” is evidence of the power journalism has to create change, Nikole Hannah-Jones told a remote audience during an appearance at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education Surges to Top Tier of Presidential Race Amid Pandemic
Journalists offer insights, story ideas on covering the schools angle

Education Surges to Top Tier of Presidential Race Amid Pandemic

Education is not typically an issue that comes to the forefront in presidential races.

But months of an ongoing coronavirus pandemic have elevated conversations about how schools and elected officials are tackling the issue. In fact, education took a front seat in high-stakes negotiations this summer over a federal stimulus bill that has stalled.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

DeVos’ Top Deputy: COVID-19 ‘Underscores’ Need for School Choice
US assistant education secretary James Blew also addresses testing waivers

DeVos’ Top Deputy: COVID-19 ‘Underscores’ Need for School Choice

If anything, the global pandemic has deepened U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s commitment to all forms of school choice, top deputy James Blew told reporters in a keynote question-and-answer session at the Education Writers Association’s 73rd National Seminar, held remotely in late July.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

US Rep. Bobby Scott: ‘If You Can’t Open Schools Safely, Don’t’
Congressman details schools' planning, funding, and Republican discord during EWA interview

If schools can be opened safely, then do it. “If you can’t do it safely, you shouldn’t do it at all.” That’s the view of the Democratic congressman with the most clout in federal education policy.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, dismissed recent CDC guidelines that emphasize the importance of reopening schools in a Friday, July 24 webinar at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar.

EWA Radio

At These Christian Schools Getting Public Dollars, LGBTQ Students Pushed Into Conversion Therapy
New investigation finds academies receiving millions in taxpayer dollars are using the controversial practice with students with pseudoscientific conversion therapy (EWA Radio: Episode 241)

In a new investigation, The Huffington Post’s Rebecca Klein found disturbing examples of Christian schools that receive taxpayer dollars — through tax credit scholarship and voucher programs — that were requiring LGBTQ students to undergo “conversion therapy” in an attempt to change their sexual orientation. The controversial practice…

Blog: The Educated Reporter

DACA Ruling Has Important Implications for Educators, Students
Find tips and resources to inform local coverage of decision's impact

The U.S. Supreme court today struck down a Trump administration effort to end protection from deportation for more than 650,000 young undocumented immigrants — including many educators and students. The action to prevent these individuals from legally living and working in the United States was “arbitrary and capricious,” the high court declared in its 5-4 ruling.

EWA Radio

Protest Stories Are Education Stories
Longtime radio journalist Adolfo Guzman-Lopez shares insights from the Southern California schools beat, and how to effectively cover the public response to George Floyd’s death
(EWA Radio: Episode 240)

For education reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez of KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, life has been “an emotional roller coaster” since he was shot in the throat by police with a rubber bullet. The incident happened May 31 in Long Beach, where Guzman-Lopez was covering a protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Seminar

73rd EWA National Seminar

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. 

This multi-day conference is designed to give participants the skills, understanding, and inspiration to improve their coverage of education at all levels. It also will deliver a lengthy list of story ideas. We will offer numerous sessions on important education issues, as well as on journalism skills.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Responsible Reporting on LGBTQ Students
Tips for coverage of youths' mental health, well-being, and more

Editor’s note: This post was updated on June 15, 2020, to reflect the U.S. Supreme Court decision that protects LGBTQ employees from being fired.

The news media must do a better job of covering the challenges faced by LGBTQ youths, a trio of advocates and educators told journalists attending an Education Writers Association seminar on adolescent learning and well-being in February.

EWA Radio

Higher Education in 2020
Looming Supreme Court decision on DACA, new rules for college admissions, lead Associated Press’ reporter’s list
(EWA Radio: Episode 226)

While it’s a new calendar year, plenty of familiar issues are carrying over from 2019 on the higher education beat, says reporter Collin Binkley of The Associated Press. Many of the biggest headline-grabbers this year are likely to center on admissions – the process of deciding who gets into what college. To settle a federal anti-trust case, colleges recently scrapped old rules that limited what they could do to compete for applicants. Now, a potential admissions marketing free-for-all will create new winners and losers. The Trump Administration’s policies against immigration, and tensions with countries such as Iran can’t help but impact foreign students interested in studying in the U.S. And the growing trend by colleges to drop application requirements for ACT and SAT test scores could also mean big changes to college access.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Word on the Beat: Public Charge

In the latest sortie of a long-running legal battle, a federal district court ruled Nov. 2, 2020 that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can not enforce the “public charge” rule to anyone applying for permanent legal status in the U.S. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Supreme Court Rules on Public Money for Religious Schools
Case challenges Blaine Amendments, separation of church and state in school choice programs

Editor’s note: This post was updated on June 30, 2020, after the Supreme Court ruled in the Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue ​case.

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that Montana unconstitutionally prevented public dollars from following students to private schools — potentially creating a landmark decision on the separation of church and state in public education. (Read the full opinion here.)

EWA Radio

Will Betsy DeVos Outlast All of Trump’s Cabinet Members?
Plus, what to watch for when presidential candidates talk education
(EWA Radio: Episode 223)

February 7 will mark the three-year anniversary of Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as the U.S. secretary of education. Few observers had bet she would stick around this long. But today, DeVos is one of the longest-serving members of President Trump’s cabinet. Rebecca Klein of The Huffington Post recently talked with dozens of people about the education secretary’s tenure, crafting an in-depth analysis of what motivates her decisions and keeps her on the job.