Donald Trump said a few things recently about education that are, well, perplexing.
One set of comments left anyone who knows anything about the past few decades of public education reform wondering how much the Republican presidential nominee knows about it, while the other raised questions about where Trump is getting education policy from — besides his daughter, Ivanka.
Trump was in Milwaukee on Tuesday, where he spoke broadly about what kind of education policy he supports. Specifically, he said:
“On education, it is time to have school choice, merit pay for teachers, and to end the tenure policies that hurt good teachers and reward bad teachers. We are going to put students and parents first.”
As lawyer and blogger Stephen Dyer noted, it is hard to imagine why Trump would say “it is time” for school choice. This past June, the charter school movement — a pillar of school choice — celebrated its 25th anniversary, and more than 6,500 of these publicly funded schools now educate between 2½ and 3 million students around the country.
Another central part of the choice movement are private school vouchers. Trump, whether he knew it or not, was speaking in the city where school vouchers began in 1990. Vouchers — and other similar programs — essentially use public funds to pay for private school tuition. There are now nearly 30 states with a voucher or tax-credit program or something similar.
Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program, the country’s longest-running voucher program, created ostensibly to provide quality school choices for children from low-income families, has not only failed to bridge the achievement gap but has also, critics say, harmed traditional public schools by siphoning off resources. A recent study of voucher schools in Milwaukee by University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh Professor Michael R. Ford, a voucher supporter and a former vice Trump’s perplexing comments about education - The Washington Post: