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.

EWA Radio

Houston Schools Reporter: After Harvey, ‘Everyone’s in Survival Mode’
EWA Radio: Episode 137

Public school students in Houston — the nation’s seventh-largest district — had expected to start a new academic year this week. Instead, many of their campuses were converted into emergency shelters, and many students as well as educators are now homeless. Shelby Webb of The Houston Chronicle discusses the latest developments, and shares some personal perspectives on reporting under emotionally charged circumstances.

Latest News

Life After No Child Left Behind: Washington State to Submit Plan for New Federal K-12 Law

At the end of the No-Child-Left-Behind era, nearly every Washington school was labeled as “failing.”

When the new federal K-12 education law — called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) — takes effect this coming school year, parents won’t receive letters that their child’s school “needs improvement” because the school didn’t meet federal test-score targets, like some did before. Under ESSA, there are no federal test-score targets.

Latest News

Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago

Even after decades of affirmative action, black and Hispanic students are more underrepresented at the nation’s top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago, according to a New York Times analysis.

The share of black freshmen at elite schools is virtually unchanged since 1980. Black students are just 6 percent of freshmen but 15 percent of college-age Americans, as the chart below shows.

Latest News

Unified Against Trump, the Country’s Would-be Democratic Governors Are Divided on Education

Coming to a Democratic primary near you: a clash over education issues.

In several big states, governors who have supported charter schools are on their way out or facing a re-election fight in 2018. And while the party is united in its distaste for President Donald Trump, candidates vying for state leadership from California to Georgia are split on key education issues.

Latest News

What’s at Stake for Schools in the Debt Ceiling Debate

Have you missed fights over whether to increase the U.S. government’s borrowing limit? You might be getting a special treat soon. Many education advocates, however, likely aren’t so thrilled.

The recurring squabble over raising the debt ceiling has roots in 2011 when, in exchange for increasing the borrowing limit, Congress imposed mandatory spending caps on government spending. The big budget legacy of that 2011 fight, known as sequestration, is still with us. 

EWA Radio

When Students Attend White-Supremacy Rallies, How Should Colleges Respond?
EWA Radio: Episode 136

In the aftermath of the white supremacy gathering in Charlottesville, Va., some universities are under pressure to take action against students who attend rallies organized by hate groups. Nick Roll of Inside Higher Ed discusses the situation and how postsecondary institutions are responding. How do universities balance respect for free speech with concerns about cultivating an inclusive campus environment?

EWA Radio

On the Menu: Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts and School Nutrition
EWA Radio: Episode 135

Tovin Lapan of The Hechinger Report visited Greenville, Miss., to examine how President Trump’s proposed budget cuts could impact rural school communities that depend heavily on federal aid for after-school and student nutrition programs. What does research show about the connections between connecting students’ eating habits and test scores?

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

More Efforts Proposed in Congress to Help Undocumented Youth

"Interviewing DREAMers" panel at EWA's 2016 National Seminar in Boston

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — or DACA — continues to make headlines, with several bills introduced in Congress this month aimed at protecting undocumented young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and providing them with a path to citizenship.

DACA provides recipients access to higher education, putting educators on the front lines of the debate over undocumented youth. Many colleges and universities have created special websites or designated personnel to help DACA students navigate college and feel safe on campus.

EWA Radio

Betsy DeVos: Many Questions, Few Answers
EWA Radio: Episode 133

Lisa Miller, an associate editor at New York magazine, discusses her new profile of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Miller discusses the unwillingness of people close to DeVos to discuss her on the record — including current Department of Education employees  — made this one of the most challenging profiles she’s ever written. What do we know about DeVos’ vision for the nation’s public schools that we didn’t know six months ago?

EWA Radio

Scoop! High School Students Interview Defense Secretary Mattis
EWA Radio: Episode 131

Teddy Fischer and Jane Gormley of Mercer Island High School in Washington State discuss how they landed a lengthy Q&A with U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who has given few interviews since joining President Trump’s cabinet. Fischer, a rising junior, and Gormley, the immediate past editor of the school’s student newspaper, worked with their journalism class and faculty advisor to prepare for the 45-minute conversation on Memorial Day.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Trump Era Serves Up ‘Teachable Moments’ for Character Ed.

Days after Donald Trump won the White House, the Brookings Institution published an essay suggesting the 2016 presidential election should serve as a “Sputnik moment” for character education.

The campaign’s “extraordinary vitriol and divisiveness” offers a strong argument for a “renewed emphasis on schools’ role in developing children as caring, empathetic citizens,” wrote Brookings scholar Jon Valant.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Study Shows Sharp Drop in Republican Support for Higher Ed

Views toward higher education have become increasingly more partisan over the past couple of years, a new survey by the Pew Research Center shows.

The national survey, conducted in early June among 2,504 adults, showed that 58 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe colleges have a negative effect on the country, compared to 19 percent for Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Top 10 Higher Ed Stories You Should Be Covering, 2017 Edition

Undergraduate enrollment is slated to increase by 14 percent between 2015 and 2026, but some liberal arts colleges may not see a boost in their number of students or have enough faculty to support the few who enroll.

Grinnell College in Iowa saw applications drop by more than 20 percent this year, Warren Wilson College in North Carolina is laying off faculty and Wisconsin’s Northland College is slashing faculty salaries, said Scott Jaschik, editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed.

EWA Radio

Betsy DeVos Goes From Ideas to Action
EWA Radio: Episode 127

Alyson Klein of Education Week and Andrew Kreighbaum of Inside Higher Ed discuss recent developments on the federal policy front, and what’s been a busy month for  U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The Education Department has hit the “pause button” on regulations aimed at reining in for-profit colleges, announced plans to scale back civil rights investigations, and suggested federal scrutiny of state accountability plans for K-12 education could be more forceful than some people — particularly Republicans — were expecting.

EWA Radio

NPR Digs Deep on School Vouchers
EWA Radio: Episode 125

Cory Turner discusses the NPR education team’s deep dive into school vouchers, with a focus on Indiana, home to the largest voucher program in the nation. Among NPR’s findings: less than 1 percent of participating students transferred out of public schools that had been labeled by the state as low performers, and many students using vouchers were already attending private schools. With school choice as a centerpiece to President Trump’s education policy agenda, what does the evidence show when it comes to academic outcomes for students using vouchers?

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Fear and Loathing in Higher Education: No One Knows What Trump’s College Agenda Looks Like

Confusion and uncertainty. Gridlock and disagreement.

Sound familiar?

No, we’re not just talking about the political machinations on Capitol Hill. It’s also a pretty good characterization of the discussion on “The Changing Politics of Higher Education” at the 2017 Education Writers Association seminar at Georgetown University.

EWA Radio

A Reality Check on Trump’s Education Budget
EWA Radio: Episode 123

Emma Brown of The Washington Post discusses President Trump’s budget proposal for education, with fresh analysis of the priorities and politics behind the line items. She also explains the prospects in the GOP-led Congress for the Trump plan. Overall, the president’s budget envisions deep cuts to the U.S. Department of Education budget, even as he wants to step up federal aid for school choice.  Which education programs are up for major cuts or outright elimination and why? How do some of the largest programs, like Title I aid for disadvantaged students and Pell grants, fare?