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What Will a Trump Presidency Mean for K–12 and Ed Tech?

By The Journal Staff
The Journal
11/09/16

Disturbingly little is known with any certainty about President-Elect Donald J. Trump’s plans for education. Even credible speculation is difficult, given that Trump is far from a traditional Republican and that his statements on a range of issues have proved somewhat inconsistent over the last year or so. But one thing is certain for a Trump presidency backed by a Republican-dominated Congress: Education policy is going to move in a new direction.

A Smaller Role for ED in K–12?

Trump’s statements on education are few and far between. He has declared he would “get rid of” Common Core. And he’s implied he’d eliminate or pare down the federal Department of Education.

But are these two positions mutually exclusive?

Common Core State Standards are, of course, state-level standards. But the incentive to adopt the standards came in no small part from a competitive grant program developed and administered by the U.S. Department of Education — Race to the Top. States that pledged to adopt the standards were awarded bonus points in their application evaluations for the high-stakes grants. The Education Department also tied waivers for NCLB to Common Core adoption. Presumably, then, some sort of incentive program would also be required to push states to back away from Common Core now that they have invested so heavily in both curriculum and testing.

Ed Tech Is an Unknown

The growth of the education technology sector has been fueled in no small part by the education reform movement. While the ed reform movement doesn’t fit tidily into any particular political milieu, its proponents do tend to lean Republican in these regards: They favor an increased role of the private sector in public education; they tend to favor school choice; they’re highly supportive of charter school expansion; they like the idea of connecting student test scores with teacher evaluations; and, on the rare occasion when they speak of teachers’ unions, they tend to be somewhat unflattering in their language. For example, theCenter for Education Reform, or CER, issued a statement last month deriding unions for obstructing charter school expansion. That organization also applauded Donald Trump for referring to school choice as the “civil rights issue of our time.”

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