President-Elect Donald Trump and Basic Education

At this point, it is difficult to say what a Trump presidency means for basic education. As a starter, the role of the federal government on basic education is really small. This is very different from the Philippines where its president with the Department of Education dictates what happens inside public schools. In the US, local school districts do. Still, what a president says may have an impact on how the public generally views public education. In this respect, it may actually be good that Donald Trump has not said so much about education during his campaign. We therefore can only wait on what he says as president.

Donald Trump delivering his victory speech (Voice of America)
Trump did release a plan for his first 100 days in office. And that plan contains several legislative proposals relevant to basic education:
  • School Choice And Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends common core, brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and make 2 and 4-year college more affordable.
  • Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act. Allows Americans to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-side childcare services, and creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.
One factor clearly affects education. It is poverty. It is clear in achievement gaps when one categorizes students according to National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Eligibility. One example is the percent of students at or above proficient achievement level in the NAEP grade 8 reading test.

Grade 8 Reading Scores (At or above Proficient Achievement Gaps)

The poverty achievement gap is rising unlike the black-white gap:

Above copied from Reardon(2011)
The income gap starts even before kindergarten so Trump's Affordable Childcare and Elderlycare Act may be a step in the right direction.

This week's election shows a bitterly divided country. And it is very close to 50:50. Trump, however, realizes, that a large part of his victory comes from the support of the working class. There may be some reason to be optimistic if Trump does equate problems in education to poverty. Trump, after all, focused on children in poverty, when he talked about school choice:
“As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty....”
Of course, what I hope is slightly different:
 “As president, I will establish the national goal of providing a quality school to every American child living in poverty....”