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.

Member Stories

Sept. 7 – 13
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

In a new radio documentary, APM Reports’ Emily Hanford looks at why teaching reading has become so controversial — and ineffective — in many U.S. classrooms. 

At a time of federal “zero tolerance” policies on immigration, students from immigrant families in the Washington, D.C., area are struggling to stay focused on their academics, reports Jenny Abamu of WAMU. 

Latest News

Wis. Gubernatorial Candidates Blame Each Other for Failing to Narrow Achievement Gap

Wisconsin’s massive gap in academic performance between its black and white students is under the spotlight of the governor’s race as the candidates blame each other for not doing more to address the persistent problem.

Wisconsin has held the distinction among states of having the largest gap in academic performance between its black and white students by some measures and that disparity has only shrunk slightly in the past 10 years, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. 

Latest News

The Other Side of School Safety: Students Are Getting Tasered and Beaten by Police

Jalijah Jones, then a freshman at Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan, remembers the punch of thousands of volts hitting his slight frame. At 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing 120 pounds, he was small for his age.

He remembers four school security guards officers pushing him up against a hallway wall before a school police officer arrived and Tasered him. He remembers a feeling of intense cold as if his high school hallway had just turned into a walk-in freezer. He remembers falling to the ground, his muscles betraying his mind’s desire to stand.

Latest News

Teacher Strikes Are Heating Up in More States

The momentum from the historic wave of statewide teacher strikes last spring seems set to continue this school year.

After thousands of teachers in a half-dozen states walked out of their classrooms to protest issues like low pay and cuts to school funding—to varying degrees of success—some onlookers are predicting this school year will see continued activism.

Latest News

The DNC Says ‘Education Is on the Ballot.’ Here’s What That Does and Doesn’t Mean.

Democrats think 2018 is their year, and they’re using education—and educators—to make their case.

On Wednesday, the Democratic National Committee highlighted teachers and others with education connections who are running for Congress and other elected offices. The committee said Dems are “running and winning by making education central to their campaigns” and that these candidates “want better pay for teachers and better schools for every child.”

Member Stories

August 31 – September 6
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

The National Education Association is hoping a crash course in campaigning will help educators running for public office, reports Education Week’s Sarah Schwartz.

For the Tampa Bay Times, Claire McNeill examines why some students of color feel isolated at Florida’s flagship university.

In Washington state, Katie Gillespie of The Columbian asks teachers on the picket lines what keeps them going despite frustrations with the job.

Latest News

The Education Of Betsy DeVos: Why Her School Choice Agenda Has Not Advanced

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos came to Washington to promote the cause of her life — school choice. Republicans controlled both the House and Senate. President Trump had promised a $20 billion program.

But more than a year and a half later, the federal push is all but dead.

That’s partly because DeVos herself emerged badly damaged from a brutal confirmation process, with few people — even in her own party — interested in taking up her pet cause.

Latest News

Arizona Lawmakers Cut Education Budgets. Then Teachers Got Angry.

Red shirts and blouses had emerged as the official uniform of teacher uprisings against low pay that were spreading from West Virginia to Oklahoma and Kentucky under the rallying cry “Red for Ed.” Just one week earlier, a Facebook post by Noah Karvelis, a 23-year-old teacher in Phoenix, lit the spark in Arizona, asking teachers to wear red on March 7 to demand more money for the state’s chronically underfunded public schools.

Latest News

A Teacher Made a Hitler Joke in the Classroom. It Tore the School Apart.

Glancing at his arm, now fully extended and pointing slightly upward, Frisch realized something: He was inadvertently pantomiming the Nazi salute. Frisch is a practicing Quaker, but his father was Jewish, and two of his great-grandmothers were killed at Auschwitz. Mortified, he searched for some way to defuse the awkwardness of the moment. And then he said it: “Heil Hitler!”

Member Stories

August 24 – August 30
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

To address chronic absenteeism, schools are experimenting with punishments and rewards, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Tawnell Hobbs.

As The Oregonian’s Bethany Barnes reports, the reopening of a historic middle school is shedding light on Portland’s complicated history of educating black children.

For the Associated Press, Sally Ho examines Bill Gates’ investments in education reform, new and old.

Latest News

For-Profit Colleges Leave Students Swimming in Debt

For many students, the path toward enrolling in a for-profit college starts with an advertisement—maybe while browsing online or watching a favorite television show. Either way, the message is usually the same: Get off the couch and do something with your life.

Latest News

‘America to Me’ Shows Why All the Black Kids Sit Together in the Cafeteria

A new 10-part documentary series from Starz has found a way to answer an old question about integrated schools: Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?

America to Me may take its name from the Langston Hughes poemLet America Be America Again, but its ethos comes from the 1997 book by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race. The series begins airing Sunday night on Starz.

Latest News

Bias-Response Teams Criticized for Sanitizing Campuses of Dissent

Responding to a steep rise in reports of hate crimes on campus, at least 260 colleges and universities have implemented bias-response teams or other reporting policies to track such incidents. But the teams have created friction of their own, as conservative students, controversial speakers and followers of the alt-right movement claim colleges are sanitizing campuses of dissent, in violation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech.

EWA Radio

What Does Hate Look Like in Schools? Education Week and ProPublica Show Us.
Is President Trump's Fiery Rhetoric Fueling Incidents at Public Campuses?
(EWA Radio: Episode 177)

Swastikas scrawled on bathroom walls. A confederate flag hanging behind a teacher’s desk. Chants of “build the wall” aimed at Hispanic students. As part of ProPublica’s “Documenting Hate” project, Education Week tallied incidents of harassment, bullying, graffiti and more at public schools across the country. The team, including Education Week’s Francisco Vara-Orta, sifted through thousands of tips, as well as news coverage of incidents from across the nation.

Latest News

After the Walkout, Teachers Turned to Reading, Writing and Politics

Five days into a statewide teacher walkout, Sarah Carnes was scrolling through her social media feeds when she came across a Facebook post asking if a teacher in the Mustang area would be willing to run for an open state House seat in the upcoming election.

Carnes, who is an art teacher at Mustang High School, had spent the previous week with thousands of other educators at the state Capitol, demanding that lawmakers increase funding for schools, only to be told repeatedly that the level of increase being sought was not going to happen.

Latest News

‘He’s a Liar’: Hot Debate Over Education in Pa. Governor’s Race

Three weeks into taking over as Pennsylvania’s governor in 2015, Tom Wolf began his push to send money into public schools across the state.

The plan he announced that day in the Coatesville School District — for a new tax on natural gas drilling — hasn’t been enacted. Nor has his call in his first budget to dramatically ramp up the state’s share of education funding. More dollars have flowed from the state to school districts during Wolf’s tenure. But the increase is less than what he aimed to achieve.

Member Stories

August 10 – August 16
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

In New Orleans, students who drink from a school water fountain may be exposed to lead, reports Marta Jewson of The Lens.

The Washington Post’s Moriah Balingit examines a new legal strategy to improve literacy instruction in resource-deprived schools.

For Parkland students, recovery comes in many forms, reports WLRN’s Jessica Bakeman.

Latest News

Former ‘Teacher of the Year’ Wins Primary for Seat in U.S. Congress

In Waterbury, Conn., where she taught high school history, Jahana Hayes always told her students to never become resigned to the challenging conditions they grew up in. Hayes, who was raised amid drug addiction and became a mother before she graduated high school, understood firsthand her students’ struggles with poverty and broken homes.

Tuesday, she defied expectations, besting veteran politician Mary Glassman, a former first selectman in Simsbury, Conn. Hayes won with 62 percent of the vote.

Latest News

She Was A Teen Mother Who Became Teacher Of The Year. Now, Jahana Hayes Wants To Become Connecticut’s First Black Democratic Member Of Congress

In Waterbury, Conn., where she taught high school history, Jahana Hayes always told her students to never become resigned to the challenging conditions they were raised in. Hayes, who was raised amid drug addiction and became a mother before she graduated high school, understood firsthand her students’ struggles with poverty and broken homes.

“I built my teaching career by telling my students you don’t get to complain here,” said Hayes, who in 2016 was named National Teacher of the Year. “If you see a problem in your community, you go and fix it.”

Latest News

Jeff Greene Touts Private School In Run For Florida Governor

Billionaire developer Jeff Greene is an unconventional Democrat running an unconventional campaign for Florida governor. So, naturally, his ideas on how to change Florida’s vast public education bureaucracy stem from an unconventional place.

Standing in a former West Palm Beach car dealership that he converted two years ago into a schoolhouse, Greene explains how the future of Florida’s schools lies in shrinking class sizes, replacing letter grades with detailed evaluations and adopting the latest technologies.