Trump's school choice proposal a 'mandate' that was 'never talked about'
WASHINGTON — As the USA’s K-12 education community waits for President-elect
Donald Trumpto flesh out his proposals, one simple idea has captured nearly everyone’s attention: his plan to give families an eye-popping $20 billion in taxpayer funds to send their kids to the public, magnet, charter or private school of their choice.
But drill down a bit and the proposal gets complicated.
Luis Huerta, a researcher who studies school choice and finance at
Columbia University’s Teachers College, observed this week that Trump’s school choice proposal is practically the only education idea anyone has seen from the campaign. It is, he said, “one of the few things that is written down and not out in the ether.”
Nonetheless, it remains a big mystery, since no one is exactly sure where the money will come from. On the campaign trail, Trump said the $20 billion would be aimed at about 11 million low-income children, with states handing over another $110 billion in order to give each student about $12,000.
But the bigger mystery, Huerta said, is who the money is for.
During the campaign, Trump successfully attracted mostly white rural and suburban voters. Rural voters have virtually no use for private-school vouchers, since their local public schools are often the only ones within driving distance. And suburbanites, Huerta said, often choose where they live based on the quality of neighborhood schools. Vouchers would actually undermine that decision.
“This idea that you will now have anybody in the state carrying a portable voucher and potentially encroach on the choice that you made, which then includes issues around real estate value and everything else, that is a complete misread of that constituency.”
And charter schools, which are publicly funded but often run by private, non-profit groups, mostly serve low-income urban families, a group that overwhelmingly voted for Democrat
Trump proposed the school choice idea at a Cleveland charter school last September. "As your president, I will be the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice,” he said at the time, suggesting the proposed block grant would let states decide where the money would go. But he said the money should follow children to Trump's school choice proposal a 'mandate' that was 'never talked about':