By Martha Zaragoza-Díaz, CABE Lobbyist
Education was one of the quietest, if not non-existent, issues of this presidential election. Since Trump’s election, some information on the educational policies he proposed during his campaign have come to light. It appears his “education plan” is comprised of three key principles:
- Ending Common Core Standards
- Providing school choice
- Removing the federal government from the student loan industry
School Choice refers to giving students and the parents the “right to choose” when it comes to receiving an education, whether it be a public, private or charter school.
Trump’s plan would reappropriate $20 billion in education funds for the purpose of providing vouchers to parents in the amount of $12,000 per student that could be redeemed at a private, public or charter school. His plan would also require states to contribute an additional $110 billion, 5.5 times the amount provided by the government. The theory behind the voucher system is that allowing students to choose the type of school to attend would increase competition and quality, thereby forcing public schools to either improve or close. Please note that studies examining the effectiveness of a voucher system at the state level are sparse and many have conflicting findings.
Eliminating Common Core Standards
As we all know, there has been national criticism of the Common Core Standards. This criticism includes the inappropriateness of the K-3 standards, how the federal government forced these standards on states and, that education should be managed at the local level. (Sound familiar?) Trump states “We cannot have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education”. Critics of this part state that forcibly ending the use of the Common Core standards is overstepping the President’s authority.
Student Loans Business
Trump would like to privatize the student loan business in order to allow the market to drive and control student loans. Higher competition from private companies would develop better rates for students. Critics of this proposal state that private lenders will not enter this market sufficiently to make loans to all students and, therefore, it would not be wise to remove the federal government from the student loan business all together.
Note: DACA = (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)
Trump, as president, may choose to reverse the policy directives concerning DACA students. Those who qualified for DACA had to prove they…
- were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- came to the United States before age 16
- lived in the US for at least five years continuously
- attended or graduated from high school or college, and
- had no criminal convictions.
Roughly 750,000 people were issued temporary protected status and, separately, work authorization.
These policies aren’t established by statute, but rather they are top-down policies and actions established by President Obama. If the Trump administration decides to end DACA, it would be at the discretion of the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to determine priorities and whether protected status is removed, along with work permits. Immigration groups like the National Immigration Law Center recommend not applying for DACA status, if you do not already have it.
California State University Chancellor, Timothy P. White, University of California President, Janet Napolitano, and incoming California Community College Chancellor, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, wrote a letter to Trump. These leaders asked him to maintain the DACA program to give the young immigrants a chance at a higher education, so they can continue to contribute to their communities and country. Each public education system has thousands of DACA students and they are “constructive and contributing members of our communities,” the letter said, adding that students are not a threat to public safety. “They should be able to pursue their dream of higher education without fear of being arrested, deported, or rounded up for just trying to learn,” the letter said.
Much public pressure has also been placed on the UC and CSU systems to make their campuses “sanctuaries”, protecting DACA students. As shown in the newspapers and TV, Hispanic and Muslim students have been bullied in schools regarding their status or ethnicity and they fear for their safety. Civil rights organizations, education advocates and EL advocates have received many emails and phone calls from teachers and parents who are very fearful about the threat of deportation for their students and their families.
As an initial effort to provide some resources for teachers, schools and parents, the immigrant rights community has been requested to provide some concrete suggestions, advice and referrals for specific problems. The next post, Action and Information for Educators, includes an initial compilation of action and resources, gathered by Californians Together, that teachers, parents and students should be aware of and use.
Trump’s Nominee for Secretary of Education
Trump has appointed Betsy DeVos, a former Michigan Republican Party Chairperson, a Republican donor and current leader of the American Federation for Children (AFC) to the Secretary of Education post. AFC describes itself as “a leading national advocacy organization promoting school choice, with a specific focus on advocating for school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs.” It is affiliated with the Alliance for School Choice. DeVos pledges to see a “transformational change” in education and is an ardent supporter and advocate for school choice and the voucher system. For Ms. DeVos, the “status quo in education is not acceptable.” She is also not a supporter of the Common Core Standards, “To clarify, I am not a supporter—period!”
Ms. DeVos is an American billionaire, businesswoman, philanthropist and education activist from Michigan. Her husband is Dick DeVos, an heir to the Amway fortune. She has four children—all private school educated.
She will require confirmation by the Republican Senate which may occur as early as January 2017. Needless to say, strong opposition from teacher unions and other education advocates regarding her appointment is anticipated
(Continued in next post.)