Neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump Are Talking Education. Why Not?


School ChoiceWhile Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton fight about events from 20 years ago and their approval ratings continue to fall, there are important issues worth discussing and debating. Education has only been brought up in the context of secondary education and it’s been Hillary Clinton preening about “free” college tuition. Donald Trump has largely ignored the issue.

Education is largely a state and local issue so it doesn’t rise to the level of importance in presidential elections as it might in a gubernatorial election. Still, it is an issue that resonates. School choice, whether it is access to private schools through opportunity scholarships or the expansion of charter schools, is quickly becoming an issue that is consistently finding approval, even in geographic areas that might have rejected it ten years ago.

For example, in Massachusetts:

A new poll finds a majority of likely voters in Massachusetts support expanding the number of public charter schools in the state.

The poll found that 52 percent of likely voters plan to vote yes with 41 percent planning to vote no.

The poll, taken from Sept. 15-20, was conducted by UMass Amherst and WBZ.

This is related to a measure, voters in Massachusetts will decide on in November:

Massachusetts voters will decide on Election Day if they want to eliminate the state’s cap on the number of charter schools and allow 12 new charters to be approved every year on top of the current 78 charter schools there.

Naturally, it would be better to eliminate caps entirely and allow as many charter schools to open as possible. Why? Because they work.

As they say, “The science is settled” on this issue. Study after study has shown, students who attend private/parochial schools as well as charter schools, outperform their public school counterparts. School choice opponents often argue such studies are “misleading” as the other schools are allowed to “choose” their students while public schools have to take all students.

Their accusation is misleading. While private schools may be more selective with some admission requirements, charter schools are open to all students. Students are not bound by money or their zip codes. There are not charter school “zones” that limit students from attending.

There is only one major problem when it comes to charter schools. There aren’t enough to serve students. Currently, if more students want to attend than there are spots available, a lottery is held. It’s pathetic to think parents have to rely on a lottery system so their children receive the best education possible.

Hillary Clinton is entirely beholden to the teachers unions who oppose school choice in all forms — even charter schools. This would be a golden opportunity for Donald Trump if he could take more time out of his day to do something other than get into Twitter wars. Trump could easily propose portions of the Department of Education budget be directed to states for the purpose of opening more charter schools giving parents more options for their children.

Sadly, it is an issue seemingly forgotten in this presidential campaign.

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  1. genferei Member

    Education has been part of the standard peroration of The Donald’s speeches for a while. He even says things like “Choice – what a beautiful word.” His pledge to get rid of Common Core is a big applause line. He wants every disadvantaged (I know, why stop there) child to be able to go to the public, private, charter, magnet or…school of their choice. Education is part of his (quixotic?) outreach to minorities.

    Indeed, didn’t he make a big speech a while ago about block granting Federal education money and using the bully pulpit to push for school choice?

    Other than that, good article.

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  2. Misthiocracy Member

    Trump is all about making the Federal Government “work” through his superior management. He’s never talked about taking power away from the Federal Government in any context, AFAIK. His entire leifmotif has been that the only thing wrong with the Federal Government is the occupant of the White House. Government power is what makes America great as long as that power is wielded by a great man.

    If he was to talk about education, it would go no further than, “We’re going to hire the best people, just the best, and you’ll start to see really tremendous education in this country, believe me. Really, just tremendous. Ask anybody. They’ll tell you that I know more about education than anybody.”

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  3. I Walton Member
    I Walton

    Trump talks of choice, but it’s not clear he knows what that means, nor that he knows it’s a state responsibility.  He opposes common core but the same comment.  There is nothing I’d like to hear more from him than he’ll abolish the DOE and end the Federal role in public education.   Trump doesn’t make it easy on we who feel compelled to vote against Hillary.   He does better on this topic than on most.

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  4. Larry3435 Member

    I Walton:Trump talks of choice, but it’s not clear he knows what that means, nor that he knows it’s a state responsibility. He opposes common core but the same comment. There is nothing I’d like to hear more from him than he’ll abolish the DOE and end the Federal role in public education. Trump doesn’t make it easy on we who feel compelled to vote against Hillary. He does better on this topic than on most.

    The questions I really want to see put to Trump, maybe in the next debate:  What is common core, exactly?  What is a charter school?  How does it differ from a magnet school?  What would you do about the Aleppo situation?  What foreign leaders, besides Putin, do you admire?  You get the idea…

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  5. genferei Member

    From here:

    • Immediately add an additional federal investment of $20 billion towards school choice. This will be done by reprioritizing existing federal dollars.

    • Give states the option to allow these funds to follow the student to the public or private school they attend. Distribution of this grant will favor states that have private school choice, magnet schools and charter laws, encouraging them to participate.
    • Establish the national goal of providing school choice to every one of the 11 million school aged children living in poverty.
    • If the states collectively contribute another $110 billion of their own education budgets toward school choice, on top of the $20 billion in federal dollars, that could provide $12,000 in school choice funds to every K-12 student who today lives in poverty.
    • Work with Congress on reforms to ensure universities are making a good faith effort to reduce the cost of college and student debt in exchange for the federal tax breaks and tax dollars.
    • Ensure that the opportunity to attend a two or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or a skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access, pay for, and finish.

    You may not like it. You may not believe it represents the life-long aspirations of DJT. But it’s not nothing.

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