Education community hopes differences can be reconciled with President-elect Trump
Despite overwhelming support for the democratic nominee, hope remains the state of education will improve under the next president
How will the Trump victory impact other industries? Here's what we know about the President-elect.
In a departure from what our readers — and most of the education community at-large — thought would be the best choice for education and the country overall, the American public has elected business tycoon Donald J. Trump as 45th president of the United States.
Now must begin the tough task of restoring the quality of education in this country — a task on which not only the future of the economy, but also national security, depends.
America’s Promise Alliance President and CEO John Gomperts said a key focus for the president-elect must be “what happens to kids and how we create opportunities for every young person in America,” and this “should be a place where we can agree and not have this division.”
Gompers said Trump should embrace and encourage collaboration between the civil rights community, business, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, families and schools to promote better outcomes for students in all schools, particularly to push the 90% graduation rate mark.
Former Washington, DC, mayor Adrian Fenty (D) said during a spring panel at ASU-GSV that education is largely “a local-controlled matter. All the kids and all the money that’s being spent is in the control pretty much of the local district.”
On the same panel, former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) said “We saw No Child Left Behind really hated by many governors, Republican and Dem. We didn’t want the federal government telling us what to do.”
This is an idea with which Trump is largely in agreement. He has often decried the role of the federal government in education, believing it to be more of a state concern, and has proposed completely obliterating the U.S. Department of Education. In 2015, when asked about the Common Core State Standards, he called them “a very bad thing,” saying “I think it should be local education.”
Perdue said the federal government does still need to be involved in holding schools accountable. “There’s more power going back to the lower level, but I hope that all of us can find a way to keep the hammer down, because you’ve got to have outcomes if our kids are going to compete in the global economy,” she said.
One way the federal government can help ensure equitable access to education for all students is through increased competition in the educational marketplace, which Trump firmly supports. While he hasn’t been a big proponent of federal involvement in education, he has promised a $20 billion investment to promote school choice, which he says “will be done by re-prioritizing existing federal dollars.”
He’s previously been on record as saying increased school choice is good for a capitalist society, and calls school choice “vital to reverse inequities in education and failing government schools.”
The top priority will be working with Congress and the new Education Secretary to ensure a smooth implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, as well as increased investment in career and technical education as a priority, even in secondary schools.
Trump will have the benefit of a Republican majority in Congress, but his candidacy has largely divided the party, and it remains unclear whether he will be able to work with Congress in the manner needed to affect education policy. While some of his rhetoric aligns with that of presumptive House Education and Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC), what role, if any, he will play in guiding key pieces of legislation through Congress are uncertain.
Gompers said the challenge will be finding ways to come together to emphasize the commonalities — the idea that every student deserves access to a high-quality education — rather than the differences on education policy.
“Campaigns by definition are about emphasizing difference,” he said. “Governing is often about not emphasizing difference, but emphasizing shared goals. And then compromising and working out how to work towards those goals.”
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