Education Policy
June 13, 2017
Will Donald Trump’s election change public education?

A historic shift may be unfolding in public education. President Trump’s proposed budget would significantly cut federal support for public schools to favor programs that encourage parents to pursue alternatives. In addition, the school choice movement has made gains in some states, where new laws boost charter schools and let parents use taxpayer-financed aid, or vouchers, to send their children to private schools. Elsewhere, the movement has run into roadblocks. In other education battles, efforts to weaken teacher tenure have fallen short in Minnesota and California, while the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that schools must make sure students with disabilities are making more than minimal progress. Finally, new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is canceling former President Barack Obama’s moves to aid borrowers under the college student loan program.

President Trump holds up House Joint Resolution 57 after signing it at the White House on March 27, 2017. (Getty Images/Andrew Harrer) President Trump holds up House Joint Resolution 57 after signing it at the White House on March 27, 2017. The measure overturns a rule on school accountability standards in the Every Student Succeeds Act. (Getty Images/Andrew Harrer)

During his campaign, President Trump said he might get rid of the U.S. Department of Education. 1 At other times, he promised to spend $20 billion on a school choice plan that would enable low-income parents to send their children to private schools or to charter schools, which are taxpayer-supported but don’t follow the same rules as traditional public schools. 2

In March, Trump proposed a fiscal 2018 education budget that splits the difference between his campaign promises. It wouldn’t eliminate the Education Department but would slash the department’s budget by $9.2 billion, or 13.5 percent. The spending blueprint would eliminate grants for teacher training and after-school programs, as well as sharply reduce aid to low-income and first-generation college students. 3