Trump Proposes Expanding School Choice to Kids in Poverty

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

A Trump administration would inject $20 million of federal funding into the education sector so children from low socioeconomic households could shift from low-performing public schools into schools of their choice, including charter and private schools.

Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump used an appearance at the Cleveland Arts and Social Science Academy to announce that his first budget would include measures to support the most disadvantaged students and provide the opportunity for all children to receive a quality education.

Abby Jackson from Business Insider writes that Jason Miller, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, announced that:

“Mr. Trump believes that all children deserve the opportunity to receive a first-class education, and his school choice reform proposals will help do just that. Introducing school choice and challenging failed government monopolies is central to helping improve results and prepare our children for the rest of their lives.”

The plan would see schools having less say in the way funding was spent, with the states distributing money to whichever school they chose, including charter, private or online institutions, write Ashley Parker and Trip Gabriel in the New York Times.

The $20 million in grant money for Trump’s education policy would be redirected from existing federal spending, but it has not been made clear exactly what area of the national budget that would come from.

Trump has previously been on record threatening to eliminate or make large cuts to the Department of Education. Apart from his opinions on the elimination of the Common Core and the DoE, Trump has previously offered little detail on how the sector should operate, report Sean Sullivan and Emma Brown from the Washington Post.

Trump offered up only a morsel of his education plan during the Republican National Convention in July when he stated that the party would:

“… rescue kids from failing schools.”

Critics of Trump’s plan include the president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, Melissa Cropper, who said:

“[I]n Ohio, we’ve seen more than enough of the ‘solutions’ Donald Trump is selling, but we’re not buying. Unregulated, unaccountable for-profit charter schools — like the one Trump is visiting today — have destabilized our public districts, defrauded taxpayers and left our kids and educators worse off, not better.”

As reported by Parker and Gabriel, the announcement of Trump’s first detailed policy on education, along with his recent visit to a black church in Detriot, also reflects a push to appeal to voters outside of the party’s traditional base.

A recent study by the conservative-leaning Thomas B. Fordham Institute found that students who attended private schools under a voucher system performed worse on standardized tests than similar students in the public school system, report Sullivan and Brown.

Charter schools have been under the spotlight during the 2016 presidential election campaign, but little has been announced on the potential future of sector until recently.

In an attempt to attract more minority voters and to appease the conservative members of the party’s right, Trump is calling for voters to support a voucher system of education when they head to the polls in November.

In depth coverage from the event can be viewed at Cleveland.com.