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: Higher Ed Beat

How to Report on Undocumented Students in the Time of Trump
As clock ticks on DACA, journalists must consider practical, legal, and ethical challenges in coverage

When the Trump administration announced plans in September to remove protections for some undocumented immigrants, Sasha Aslanian, a reporter with APM Reports, contacted an undocumented student to get a personal reaction to the news.

Having received a number of interview requests that day, the student told Aslanian: “I feel like I’m just trauma porn. People are leaving me messages saying, ‘I want to hear how you feel about this and I’m on deadline. Can you call me back within two hours?’”

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Covering the New Reality of Adult Learners at College
Non-traditional students account for almost half of undergraduates.

In the last year, newspapers published more than 100 stories focused on admissions to Harvard University, an institution with fewer than 7,000 undergraduates.

Meanwhile, a Nexis search over the same time period turns up fewer than 50 articles using the phrase “adult undergraduates.” The U.S. has 7.6 million undergraduates aged at least 22 – more than 1,000 times Harvard’s enrollment. These older students account for fully 44 percent of the population on the nation’s college campuses.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

School Vouchers: What Do Latino Parents Want?

President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos both say they want to expand school choice, including with public funding for private schools.

Recently, two parent activists on the front lines of the school voucher debate — one from Wisconsin, the other from Arizona — spoke to journalists attending the Education Writers Association’s convening for Spanish-language media.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

A Reporter’s Guide to Covering Campus Protests

Long the site of sit-ins, protests, and acts of civil disobedience, college campuses have, once again, become flash points for broader debates around race, free speech, and other highly-emotive issues.

Lisa Pemberton, an award-winning journalist and news team leader for The Olympian, knows well the challenges of covering protests, having spent much of her time recently covering racial tension and student protests at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Jose Antonio Vargas Calls for Context, Clarity When Reporting on Undocumented Immigrants

An elderly black woman with a crumpled piece of paper helped reframe the way Jose Antonio Vargas views the debate over immigration in America.

Vargas is a longtime journalist, an undocumented immigrant, and an advocate for immigrants. He was at a Tea Party event in North Carolina a couple of years ago when the woman, who recognized him from television, approached. She held a document she said her great, great, grandmother was handed after landing in South Carolina.

It was a bill of sale.

Key Coverage

Inside ESSA Plans: How Are States Looking Beyond Test Scores?

School officials: Get ready to figure out whether your students have a problem with chronic absenteeism. And while you’re at it, see if you’re getting them ready for college and the workplace. 

Attendance—particularly chronic absenteeism—and college-and-career readiness are by far the most popular new areas of focus for accountability among the 40-plus states that have filed their plans to implement the Every Student Success Act, an Education Week review shows.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Trump Urged to Renew Advisory Panel on Improving Education for Hispanics

For nearly three decades, a White House commission created to help boost Hispanic student achievement has advised four presidents and their secretaries of education. The advisory panel, however, is set to expire on Sept. 30 unless President Donald Trump issues an executive order to keep it going, according to Patricia Gándara, a commission member who is rallying to preserve it.

Key Coverage

Your One-Stop Shop for ESSA Info on Teachers, Testing, Money, and More

For teachers, parents, principals, and others, the Every Student Succeeds Act is no longer on the horizon. Now it’s in their schools.

Yes, ESSA has officially taken effect this school year. All but four states have turned in their plans for the education law’s implementation to the federal government—and some states’ plans have already gotten approved by the U.S. Department of Education. But there’s a decent chance you’re still gathering information and learning about ESSA.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Congress Ramps Up Efforts to Address Child-Care Costs

Action on Capitol Hill to address early childhood care and education is heating up, with key deadlines looming and critical legislation pending.

Last week, Democrats in the House and Senate introduced an ambitious child-care plan, while a House panel approved a bill to extend a popular federal home visiting program that seeks to help low-income families raise healthy children. That program, currently funded at $400 million, is set to expire unless Congress acts by the end of the month.

Key Coverage

Rivalries, Political Infighting Marked States’ ESSA Planning

The grinding, two-year process of drafting accountability plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act has upended states’ K-12 political landscape and laid bare long-simmering factions among power brokers charged with putting the new federal education law into effect this school year.

Key Coverage

On State Accountability Plans, Another Test for Betsy DeVos

Monday marks the final deadline by which nearly all states must have submitted a K-12 accountability plan to the U.S. Department of Education, marking a pivotal – if not yet final – step in how schools will operate under the new federal education law.

The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, gives states new flexibility to create accountability systems that suit their unique needs. Those plans must be vetted and cleared by the Department of Education before states begin implementing them in the near future.

Key Coverage

Testing Remains Key Part of Georgia’s Education Plan

Georgia hopes to embark on a new education plan that shifts away from the tough test-and-punish regime of the past that some say was unrealistic and unfair but others say held schools accountable for all students, including their worst performers.

On Monday, the state will submit its plan for compliance with the latest updates to the federal education law, known as the No Child Left Behind Act under President Georgia Bush and now as the Every Student Succeeds Act, after it was amended with bipartisan support under President Barack Obama more than a year ago.

Key Coverage

Wisconsin’s ESSA Plan Puts Power at Local Level

The task of turning around failing public schools would fall to local school boards and communities, rather than outside operators or state-mandated recovery districts, under Wisconsin’s plan to comply with the new federal education law, which was made public Monday.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers filed the plan with the U.S. Department of Education on Monday, just days after Gov. Scott Walker announced he would not sign it because it did not include some of the more aggressive reforms proposed by other states.

Key Coverage

Is Iowa’s ESSA Plan Doing Enough for Low-Income and Minority Students?

Iowa’s minority and low-income students will have different — sometimes lower — goals than their white, affluent peers under a new school accountability plan developed by the Iowa Department of Education.

That is drawing attention to the sticky crossroads of educational aspirations and the reality of helping students who are sometimes three to four grade levels below their peers.

Webinar

Covering State ESSA Plans: What Reporters Need to Know

Covering State ESSA Plans: What Reporters Need to Know

States across the nation are taking another look at their school accountability systems in response to the Every Student Succeeds Act, a rewrite of the main federal law for K-12 education. So far, 16 states and the District of Columbia have submitted their ESSA plans for review by the U.S. Department of Education. Another 33 states have until Sept. 18  to do so.

Agenda

Covering Campus Conflict in the Time of Trump: Agenda
Atlanta • October 2–3, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

9:45– 11:30 a.m.: (Optional) Journalists’ Tour of CNN

CNN has graciously agreed to give 20 EWA members a journalists-only tour of their newsroom, and a chance to talk with members of CNN’s newsgathering, digital and data analysis teams to learn about their state-of-the art techniques of building traffic. The tour will start at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 2 at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters, located at One CNN Center, Atlanta, GA 30303. Please be at the entryway at 9:45 a.m. so you can go through security.

Key Coverage

Private Geography: Vouching Towards Bethlehem

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is from Grand Rapids, Michigan. So is This American Life producer Susan Burton. During Devos’s nomination hearings, critics accused her of never having set foot in a public school. But it turns out that years ago she did—as a volunteer mentor. Susan returned to Grand Rapids to find out what DeVos’s experience in a public school in her hometown can tell us about her vision for education in this country.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Can Fresh Attention to Rural Schools Fix Old Problems?

Telling the stories of the nation’s rural schools means better understanding what they offer the roughly 8.9 million students enrolled.

It also involves understanding the communities around those schools, the students attending them, and the challenges they face, a panel of educators and journalists explained recently during EWA’s National Seminar in Washington, D.C.

And one of the most important stories to tell about rural education involves inequality, said Alan Richard, a longtime education writer and editor.