The results of November 8th’s election has left much of the country reeling, unsure what to expect for the next four years. Trump’s policy promises are leaving groups of people including the LGBTQ community, Muslims, people of color, immigrants, and women concerned about their futures in the United States. Among these groups who may experience changes under president-elect Trump’s policies are public school students. Central students may be wondering how their school situation may change as they finish high school and move on to college.
A combination of federal, state, and local taxes goes towards funding the schools within a public school system such as the School District of Philadelphia. Trump’s education policies lie on an idea called School Choice, which undermines the basis of the public school system. Under school choice, a student can receive a voucher for the amount of money needed to fund a single student in a public school, and the student’s parent can choose use the voucher to move them to a private school or a for-profit charter school using the state and tax money that has been allocated to them. By doing this, Trump’s plan chooses to reduce the money going into improving the public school system, instead allowing taxpayers’ money to be moved around by individuals.
Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education is Michigan based billionaire and outspoken conservative Betsy DeVos. DeVos has actively petitioned for School Choice and the growth of for-profit charter school, continually devaluing the role of traditional public education. Aaron Pallas, professor of education at Columbia University, explains in an article first published on the Hechinger Report that under DeVos, the quality of the education that students receive at public schools will become secondary to the marketing and profit strategies of private and charter schools. According to Pallas, public schools could wither, and even become a thing of the past, without the proper funding. Because of DeVos’ controversial past of funding Michigan charter schools with her own money, her cabinet appointment is still pending approval from the senate.
Trump’s policies are not promising for the future of public education. He has made it clear through his speeches, interviews, website blurbs, and cabinet picks, that to the extent that it is possible, it is his intention to privatize education. It is Donald Trump’s ultimate intention to privatize public schools to the extent that he can as president. It is his belief that for-profit education and school choice will raise the nation’s test scores, despite the fact that the countries whose education systems are ranked above America’s (South Korea, Japan, and Finland, to name a few) have refused to privatize their education. Whether or not Central students have anything to fear right now remains unclear- but what is clear is that Trump intends to marginalize public education, and undermine the premise of a proficient, free, and accessible education.
Lena Popkin (277)