Friday, September 9, 2016

Trump's Education Policies Are Conservative Boilerplate, Give Or Take $20 Billion

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 3:07 PM

Donald Trump has finally told us what he thinks about education, making it abundantly clear he hasn't thought much about the subject. Before this, he's made general pronouncements about wanting guns, not Common Core, in schools, and being for school choice. And of course, "I want the parents, and I want all of the teachers, and I want everybody to get together around a school and to make education great." Most of his current proposals are nothing new, a restatement of the standard "education reform"/privatization agenda, including an emphasis on vouchers. His advisors wrote him a speech, he read it, and now he'll be able to return to what he really cares about, which is TRUMP MAKING AMERICA (and Trump)GREAT AGAIN!

"School Choice," which Trump says will lead to "Increased Student Performance," is the uniting theme in his proposals. There's no solid evidence that charter schools or private schools increase student achievement—most studies come out as a wash, with little difference in achievement between district, charter and private schools when they compare similar students—but never mind. Facts never have never stood in the way of Trump's runaway assertions before.

Here is Trump's vision of school choice.
As President, Mr. Trump will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty. That means that we want every disadvantaged child to be able to choose the local public, private, charter or magnet school that is best for them and their family. Each state will develop its own formula, but the dollars should follow the student.
It's all about poor children, according to Trump's statement. No mention of the rich children whose parents will be able to send their children to toney private schools on the taxpayers' dime, though they're clearly included in the plan. Later the proposal says he wants school choice "to bring hope to every child in every city in this land."

Trump is in favor of portable funding, where federal money follows the child. It's another conservative educational standard, which would gut Title 1 programs in schools with a majority of low income students and transfer money to schools with more high income students. And of course, he's for teacher merit pay and ending teacher tenure laws.

Trump only deviates from conservative educational orthodoxy with his plan to add $20 billion in federal dollars to promote school choice. Where will the money come from? He doesn't say, except to state, "This will be done by reprioritizing existing federal dollars." Which federal dollars? Will they come from current federal education money or elsewhere? I have no idea, and neither, I imagine, does Trump, nor does he much care at this point, so long as it helps TRUMP MAKE AMERICA (and the federal budget) GREAT AGAIN!

He wants to distribute the money as "a block grant for the 11 million school age kids living in poverty. Individual states will be given the option as to how these funds will be used." I'm not sure how you give money to the states as a block grant with states having the option of how it's spent and at the same time assure it's going to be spent on school choice for poor children. Like most conservatives, Trump is against federal mandates on grants to states, but he also wants to mandate how the money will be spent while giving states the option of how to spend it. If that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, well, we're not supposed to get too hung up on the details. All that matters is TRUMP IS GOING TO MAKE AMERICA (and its schools) GREAT AGAIN! 

This Just In: During his speech at the Value Voters Summit, Trump repeated his commitment to school choice and upped the ante. In addition to the $20 billion Trump wants to pull from the federal government's . . . wherever, he said as president he would push the states to add $110 billion of their own to increase school choice for the poor and disadvantaged. Of course, he didn't say where the money would come from.

I can think of a good way (cough, taxtherich, cough) Arizona could come up with a billion or two to supplement education for disadvantaged students. I wouldn't target the money for charters and private schools, but the idea that students from low income families actually need more money for their educations than students with all kinds of financial and educational advantages at home, well, Mr. Trump, I have to say, I couldn't agree more.

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