Donald Trump is officially the 45th President of the United States of America. We cannot say whether this is good or bad, however what might his presidency mean for the education system in the country? According to author Emily Deruy, Trump’s actions and intentions are “unclear.” In a recent article, Donald Trump and the Future of Education, Deruy tries to shed some light on the policies the new administration might make and adopt.
Trump’s choice of a new education secretary will definitely give us more clues as to what his intentions and plans are. Deruy speculates that one of the possible changes is the increase of vouchers used by students when choosing their school.
“One area where the Trump administration could make changes, and where officials might use the muscle of the Education Department, is in expanding the use of vouchers that would let students use federal money to attend the schools of their choice, be they charters, private or parochial schools, magnet programs, or traditional public schools. Trump has proposed $20 billion to move that idea forward.”
In addition to this, new Vice President Mike Pence, who is a key figure, wants “schools to be locally controlled with minimal federal involvement. He’s backed charter schools and vouchers.”
Pence also successfully urged state Republicans to create a publicly funded preschool program aimed at low-income children, but he was reluctant to apply for a federal grant to fund the program, so it’s unclear that Pence would push for a preschool expansion at the federal level.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Williamson Evers at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and former Republican presidential challenger Ben Carson are three figures suspected of having future positions in the new President’s education team. What does this mean?
“This all suggests that, broadly, a Trump administration would be pro-charter and pro-voucher while also looking to generally scale back the federal government’s role in education.”
In addition, Gerard Robinsosn, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), rumored to head up Trump’s education team, has claimed that “he expects Trump to emphasize “entrepreneurship” over “bureaucracy,” and to demand “taxpayer accountability.”
Everyone wants higher education to be more affordable, but how does the new head of the state see things?
“On higher education, Trump has said he’d like to make college more affordable by capping student-loan repayments and, as he said on the trail repeatedly, getting the Education Department out of the student-loan business. He’s also backed income-based repayment plans, an idea that has garnered support from both major parties, and said university endowments should not be exempt from taxes.”
This all sounds perfectly fine, however, there are many serious concerns in this area. As we know, Trump has spoken on numerous occasions against immigration, therefore limiting people’s access, in particular Muslims, to higher education in the US.
He’s worried some students and college leaders by suggesting that universities are too concerned with being “politically correct,” and international students—Muslims in particular—have expressed concern about whether they would be permitted to study at U.S. universities given Trump’s pledge to ban or severely restrict the number of Muslims entering the country. His comments about holding colleges accountable and his suggestion that colleges should only accept students they think can be successful have also worried some advocates who are concerned that children who face significant adversity and may not have the best grades or best credentials (but for whom education might present a real path to success) will be pushed out of attending college.
Last but not least, let’s mention Donald Trump’s trial, which will be getting under way soon. His university “has been accused of fraudulently marketing professors as hand-picked by Trump and failing to teach how he achieved success in real estate.” Let’s wait and see what happens with the trial and then reach our conclusions.
All in all, nothing about the future of our education system is certain. Unfortunately, the new President’s speeches are not abundant in topics related to education, which makes it hard for us to predict anything.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.