On Tuesday, President Trump delivered his first address to Congress since his inauguration.
Receiving only a few moments during the speech, President Trump called education “the civil rights issue of our time.” Trump then called on Congress “to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children.” While there was speculation that we would learn more details about Trump’s $20B school choice campaign promise during the speech, the President elaborated only that this should be separate legislation – possibly leaving the recently reauthorized Every Student Succeeds Act unscathed. The President finished his education remarks by reiterating his support for school choice stating “families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.”
While it’s still unclear what the details of Trump’s school choice plan are, the President’s remarks suggest that he still intends to include not only traditional public schools and charters in his choice plan but also private religious schools and home schooling options. Questions still remain though about how the President will actually accomplish this goal. Many education stakeholders believe he will need to take a tax credit approach rather than direct appropriations due to the difficulties in finding funding in the federal budget for what the President has stated will be a $20B program. A tax credit approach though could prove problematic for even Republicans due to the likely federal oversight required of state tax systems. With budget negotiations coming up in the next several months this will be an area to watch closely.
While there are still significant questions remaining about the Trump Administration’s federal education priorities, extensive education policy happens at the state level. We can look at Governor’s State of the State addresses for guidance on state level education priorities. Stay tuned for an Ed Policy Forum 2017 State of the State summary and analysis of state education priorities we can expect to see over the next year.