What Will Trump’s Election Mean for Education? School Choice Supporters Respond

Jeanne Allen

Jeanne Allen

Founder and CEO, Center for Education Reform

Our hope is that in the coming days President-elect Trump and his transition advisors will consider all good ideas and begin to learn from the myriad people working throughout the nation who are transforming their schools and communities.  
 
President-elect Trump – We believe there is much you can do to address the hopes and dreams of all who elected you. We hope you will embrace innovation, applaud and incentivize ambitious state efforts to create opportunity for all learners at all levels, reject the status quo and think hard about all those you appoint to support you and the needs of citizens everywhere.

Bob Bowdon

Bob Bowdon

Executive Director, Choice Media

The surprise of a President-Elect Trump offers the possibility for disruptive innovation in American education. But he shouldn’t waste time. Not only are the futures of children at stake, but political capital seems to have an expiration date. A number of Presidents, like Obama, Clinton and Eisenhower have entered the oval office with the luxury of leading the same political party that controls both houses of Congress — only to see Congressional power shift to hostile control after just two years and for the rest of their Presidencies.

President-Elect Trump’s $20 billion school choice block grant proposal received little attention from the education reform community, but that’s likely to change now. Unlike some of my colleagues, I hold out hope that a new federal plan could be crafted that will spur large increases in educational choice, while respecting the autonomy of states.

Jason Crye

Jason Crye

Executive Director, Hispanics for School Choice

At this moment, what a Trump administration means for education reform is indecipherable. Besides praising school choice and criticizing the Common Core, the Trump campaign was overall quiet on education policy.

Perhaps Vice President Pence will help to define a solid education platform? In any case, a direction will become clearer when a Secretary of Education and sub-cabinet positions are named. I am unaware of anyone with an inside track to these posts, although some have suggested my governor, Scott Walker.

In short, let’s just wait and see. Predicting anything about Donald Trump has already made too many of us look silly.

Ben DeGrow

Ben DeGrow

Director of Education Policy, Mackinac Center

It certainly is a relief to avoid the anti-education reform entrenchment that promised to come with a Hillary Clinton presidency. On the other hand, Trump’s limited ventures into discussion of education policy don’t tell us much, other than he opposes Common Core and favors school choice. It’s very difficult to see where the latter cause might go under his administration, since an expansion of choice is by far best accomplished at the state or local level.

Likely Trump’s biggest contribution would be to appoint a qualified Secretary of Education who can provide a bully pulpit for educational choice programs and other effective reforms.

Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos

Chairman, American Federation for Children

There is an education revolution underway in America. In election after election, voters have risen up to elect candidates who support bold school choice policies and that was evident on Tuesday, from the statehouse to the White House. More and more voters are rejecting the notion that the government should dictate where children should go to school and are rejecting the failed, one-size-fits-all education policies of the past. 

AFC has already begun to pave the way for bold school choice advancement on the federal level and we look forward to working with the Trump-Pence Administration and Congress to ensure every child has equal access to a quality school of their parents’ choice.

Lisa Graham Keegan

Lisa Graham Keegan

Senior Advisor, National School Choice Week

I think this is good news for school choice. The people who have been working with the president elect are school choice advocates and advocates for excellence. I look forward to knowing the next president will let states take the lead here.

Tyler Koteskey

Tyler Koteskey

Education Policy Analyst, Reason Foundation

However you voted, no one can deny that 2016 gave us a historic election result. For education, Donald Trump’s victory represents a unique chance to advance reform and school choice. With House and Senate majorities and a vacant Supreme Court seat, the Trump Administration has the opportunity to be one of the most pro-school choice in history. The new administration should capitalize on its position by making Title I funds portable, giving Education Savings Accounts to Bureau of Indian Education students, reauthorizing Washington DC’s school voucher program, and supporting states and school districts interested in implementing student-based budgeting. Overall, the next Administration should work to reduce the Department of Education’s top-down footprint on American schools by pursuing policies that give individual families and students’ great educational choices, no matter where they live.

Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

Director, Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom

Overall, Trump has inveighed against federal intrusion in education, including talking about eliminating the U.S. Department of Education. The semi-concrete proposals he has put out there, however, seem somewhat at odds with that.

One thing, however, seems certain: wonks and pundits would be wise not to dismiss his proposals as political pie-in-the-sky. Trump may well have a better sense for what is politically viable than they do, and his supporters don’t seem inclined to do what Beltway types tell them.

Teresa Mull

Teresa Mull

Managing Editor for School Reform News, The Heartland Institute

I’m encouraged by Donald Trump’s victory and specifically by the pro-school choice measures he’s proposed. Trump has said one of his priorities will be to expand school choice through voucher programs, which is very exciting, especially for our poorest students currently trapped in failing government schools.

Trump has also said he wants to limit the influence of the Department of Education. Such a move would go a long way in freeing students to meet their full potentials at the schools of their choice.

I’m also looking forward to the increase of school choice measures that will likely come about as a result of the election of several school choice leaders in places like Florida and Indiana. Americans want choice, they realize it works, and they’ve made their desires known at the polls.

Robert Pondiscio

Robert Pondiscio

Senior Fellow and Vice President for External Affairs, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

If there’s a message that Trump’s victory should send education reform it’s that our education elite are likely just as guilty as overlooking the interests of middle Americans as our political and media elite.  How many times have we heard — or said — that education reform is the “civil rights struggle of our time?”  That stirring sentiment has drawn a great deal of creativity and dynamism into the field, but that energy has been focused almost entirely on schools serving low-income children of color.  The defeat of Question 2 in Massachusetts, along with the unmistakable message of the Trump campaign suggests to me that we have work to do improving educational outcomes–and the appeal of the ed reform movement–for all American children.

Gerard Robinson

Gerard Robinson

Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

A Trump win is a victory for parental choice, entrepreneurship, and taxpayer accountability.  
 
Trump knows that more than 50 million students call public education home. I can envision him advancing choice policies and execution actions that strengthen opportunities for families, students and educators to thrive in this important sector of American life. For private schools, blended models and alternative learning options I see parental choice thriving as well under a Trump administration.

Darla Romfo

Darla Romfo

President & COO, Children's Scholarship Fund

During the campaign, President-elect Trump said that:  “As your President, I will be the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice. I want every single inner city child in America who is today trapped in a failing school to have the freedom – the civil right – to attend the school of their choice.”  He also has put forward proposals and talked about common sense approaches including expanded school choice that allows funds to follow students to public or private schools.  In addition, Vice President-elect Pence has been a strong supporter of school choice in his home state.  If they work with Congress and the states to  pursue these policies, it can only be good for all America’s children, but especially for children who have the most need and would gain the most from better educational opportunities. 

 

Terry Ryan

Terry Ryan

CEO, Bluum and the Idaho Charter Schools Network

The Republican electoral success is a wake up call for all of us working in education policy. We have largely neglected rural families and their children in our school reform strategies over recent decades. Our rural citizens have challenged us to bring quality school choices and learning opportunities to their children and communities. They recognize that access to quality education is access to the American dream. Rural America has spoken and we need to listen.

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