A Closer Look at President Trump's Education Plan
President Trump has already caused somewhat of a stir among the educational community, with his recommendation for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, considered a controversial pick, by many due to her relative lack of experience in public education. But what does the rest of his educational plan for the country look like?
On the campaign trail, he famously suggested he may abolish the Department of Education, this would require an act of congress and with no clear plan to replace it, it seems an unlikely scenario. Before his election, Trump did not share details about his educational plans but did announce his “vision” for education in America, it included:
- Increasing ‘school choice’
- Reducing the cost of University or
- Making changes to the common core, the Education Department and perhaps the science curriculum.
Trump wishes to usher in a new wave of options for parents and students by promising a federal investment of $20 billion towards school choice. Trump and DeVos are proponents of the “school choice” policy, which many school administrators fear will destroy the public-school system. In this scheme families, will be entitled to take school funds in the form of “vouchers” and opt to spend them on the educational facility of their choosing, be it public, private or publicly funded but privately managed charter schools.
One of the questions Betsy DeVos was grilled on in her confirmation hearing was whether she expected equal accountability to be applied across schools, including charter schools, she was unwilling to answer this question satisfactorily. This has some critics worried that Trump’s plan will funnel additional funds into private and charter schools which will then not be held to the same rigorous standards as public schools. Trump does seem to be in favor of less school regulations with States making their own decisions regarding education policy
Reducing the Cost of Higher Education
Trump has suggested he would work on reforms with Congress to ensure universities are making a good faith effort to reduce the cost of college and student debt. However, at her confirmation hearing, DeVos would not answer questions about ‘gainful employment’ regulations which force colleges and universities to ensure their courses offer value for money in terms of employment opportunities after graduation.
Trump has been a vocal opponent of the common core and insinuated that he would remove the program, but as this initiative was set by state leaders not the federal government he wouldn't have the authority to do so. However, political commentators suggest he may simply change, refocus or rename them. Again, although Trump doesn't have the ability to change day to day lessons in the classroom as they too are planned by state policies, his inner circle’s anti-science stance, in particular, Mike Pence’s comments regarding the teaching of creationism, have some science educators concerned. Pressure from parents and the community in some areas, especially those with a predominant fundamentalist Christian demographic may influence curriculum decisions in the future.
President Trump has proved that he can be difficult to predict and no-one really knows what initiatives he will enact. Many of his sweeping suggestions for education reform will be difficult or impossible to realize without approval from Congress. Whatever decisions are made it seems clear that President Trump has plans to shake up the educational sector, Washington and the world at large.