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

DeVos to Be Investigated for Potential Violation of Ethics Law

An independent government agency will investigate whether Education Secretary Betsy DeVos breached a law forbidding federal employees from engaging in political activities on the job after her department distributed a clip of Ms. DeVos criticizing the Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., through government channels.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which has jurisdiction to investigate violations of the law, known as the Hatch Act, will conduct the inquiry, according to the investigative watchdog blog that filed the complaint.

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.

Latest News

In Crackdown On Race-Related Content, Education Department Targets Internal Book Clubs, Meetings

The Education Department plans to scrutinize a wide range of employee activities — including internal book clubs — in search of “Anti-American propaganda” and discussions about “white privilege” as it carries out the White House’s demand that federal agencies halt certain types of race-related training.

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.

Latest News

UNC’s ‘Daily Tar Heel’ Covers Front Lines Of College Reopenings

On the morning of Friday, Aug. 14, The Daily Tar Heel newsroom got a tip: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was about to announce clusters of positive coronavirus cases in student housing, after only a week of in-person classes. The student-led independent newspaper broke the news before the university sent its campus-wide alert.

Over the weekend, more news of clusters trickled in — this time at a fraternity house and another dorm.

Latest News

As Hewlett-Packard Can’t Deliver Computers on Time, Cleveland School District Sent Scrambling to Find 9,000 New Laptops in Two Weeks

The Cleveland school district begins the fall semester — entirely online — in two weeks, and in the 11th hour, it heard from a major supplier that it would not be able to give every student their own laptop by then.

The Hewlett-Packard Company reneged on a commitment to provide 9,000 laptops by Sept. 8, the first day of the new academic year, and now the infuriated school district is rushing to find computers for students before then.

Latest News

TikTok Helped Teachers and Students Stay Connected During the Pandemic. Now Trump Wants to Ban It

When schools closed in March because of the coronavirus, Vanessa Cronin had no idea how to make instructions for her Spanish lessons engaging enough for her students to read.

“So now I’m supposed to type my instructions in an email?” Cronin, who teaches at Marine Science Magnet High School in Groton, Connecticut, asked herself. “I could picture my kids at home saying things like, ‘Too long. Too boring. I won’t read this.’”

Latest News

Congress’s Ideological Divide Has Stymied Aid for Pandemic-Stricken Schools

Republicans and Democrats in Congress say they agree that a new stimulus package must include billions of dollars to help schools struggling financially and logistically to resume education this month and next.

But the parties are digging in over profound ideological differences, especially the divide between Democratic demands for public education spending and a Republican push to channel federal dollars into vouchers that families could use at private schools willing to open for in-person classes.

Latest News

Poll Finds Parents, Fearing Covid, Prefer Mix Of Online And In-Person School

Most American parents think it’s unsafe to send their children back to school given the risks of the novel coronavirus, and more than 80 percent favor holding school at least partly online, according to a Washington Post-Schar School survey conducted by Ipsos.

But parents also express serious concerns with online schooling and many are drawn to systems that mix the two.

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.

Latest News

Dream Center: DeVos Aide Diane Auer Jones Helped For-Profit Art Institutes, Argosy University, Texts And Emails Show

For the past year, the Education Department has denied that a top official went out of her way to help Dream Center Education Holdings, owner of the Art Institutes, South University and Argosy University, as the company spiraled into insolvency.

But a batch of text messages, emails and letters shed new light on Dream Center’s relationship with Diane Auer Jones, the head of higher education policy at the department, and her efforts to help the company regain accreditation at two of its schools.

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.

Latest News

America’s Mask Debate Shifts to Schools

Championed by health experts and flouted by the president, the humble face covering has become an emblem of America’s fractured response to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the mask debate is heading to school.

Who must wear them? Who will provide them? And who will solve the umteen logistical riddles they pose, from cleaning procedures and accommodating students with special needs to redirecting distracted children who tug, scratch, and remove their masks during lessons?

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.