Where Donald Trump Stands on School Choice, Student Debt and Common Core
When it comes to predicting how President-elect Donald J. Trump’s administration will affect America’s schools and universities, education experts say they are struggling to read the tea leaves.
“The fundamental issue is that nobody really knows what the Trump administration is about” on education, said Frederick M. Hess, a conservative education policy expert. At a panel discussion in Washington last week, he joked that Mr. Trump’s trademark educational achievement thus far, creating the controversial Trump University, placed him in history alongside another president, Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the University of Virginia.
“He’s been all over the map on a number of these questions,” Mr. Hess, the director of education policy studies for the American Enterprise Institute, said during a panel discussion on Wednesday at the Shanker Institute, an education nonprofit.
Mr. Hess is among education experts and policy makers who, since the election, have been trying to figure out what a Trump administration might do for education — starting with whether there will even be a federal Department of Education. Mr. Trump suggested during the campaign that the agency might be on the chopping block, though the statement seemed more like a sound bite than a policy pronouncement.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump’s statements on education were largely like that: a series of short clips, some seemingly contradictory. And it is not clear whether his policies will hew closely to the Republican agenda or fall more in line with his populist streak.
Mr. Trump’s signature education proposal — to provide $20 billion in federal money to allow low-income students to select private or charter schools — is one area where he seems to be borrowing policy from Vice President-elect Mike Pence. As governor of Indiana, Mr. Pence championedschool choice and favored a smaller federal role in education.
While arguing that Mr. Trump should be taken seriously on education because he wants to cut college costs and improve schools, Mr. Hess said Mr. Trump’s pronouncements so far were not based on fully formed policy.
“The $20 billion figure for school choice came out of nowhere,” Mr. Hess said. “You know that Mr. Trump has been all over the place on student loans.”
A number of names have been floated as possible choices for education secretary. Mr. Trump met over the weekend with Michelle Rhee, a former District of Columbia schools chancellor, a Democrat who reversed her opposition to school vouchers in 2013 and has supported Common Core standards.
Another possible candidate is Williamson M. Evers, an education expert at the Hoover Institution, a think tank. Mr. Evers was a senior adviser at the Education Department during President George W. Bush’s administration.
Mr. Trump’s office has not responded to requests for interviews on his education priorities, but he and people close to him have dropped a few clues. Here is an overview of what America’s schools and universities might expect during the Trump administration:
SCHOOL CHOICE In a speech at a Cleveland charter school in September, Mr. Trump rolled out the banner element in his education plan — the $20 billion program to promote “school choice.” Along with the federal money, states also would be encouraged to kick dollars into a pool so that low-income children could select their schools, including private and Where Donald Trump Stands on School Choice, Student Debt and Common Core - The New York Times: