Education

What Donald Trump Believes About Education

CREDIT: Bebeto Matthews, AP

Republican presidential hopeful and celebrity billionaire Donald Trump has expressed his views on the Iraq War, the economy and immigration policy, but he hasn’t waded far into education policy. Although some of Trump’s statements have been fairly moderate or favorable to liberals, such as saying he opposes cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security and pointing out that a single-payer health care system works well in Canada and Scotland, Trump views on education fall in line with most of the Republican field. He supports school choice, opposes Common Core and is likely in favor of for-profit colleges.

Attacking Common Core Standards

He recently criticized two of his Republican opponents, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), for their positions on Common Core. Like most of the Republican field, with the exception of Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Bush, Trump has characterized Common Core as federal overreach. The standards were created by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers and states were not forced to adopt them.

Trump said of Bush’s support of Common Core standards on Fox’s On The Record, “I watched Jeb Bush … I think it’s pathetic what’s going on, his stance on Common Core … He’s in favor of Washington educating your children.”

Trump also pointed out Walker once supported Common Core and changed his position. Walker, like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), has been inconsistent in his position on Common Core and supported it before he came out against it.

Relaxing Regulations On For-Profit Colleges?

Trump started his own online for-profit college, Trump University, in 2005. It never received accreditation, but it also never attempted to get accreditation, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. In addition to the website, Trump University sold CDs and DVDs but it did not offer degrees. The New York State Department of Education asked that it stop calling itself a university and shortly after it changed its name to Trump Entrepreneur Initiative. In 2013, the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued the company, saying it misrepresented its classes. The legal battles continue, since a class action suit has been brought against the company by a student who spent $36,000 plus on Trump’s investing tips.

For-profit colleges have been in the news recently after falling attendance rates and increased federal scrutiny have made it more difficult for some for-profit colleges to operate.
Corinthian Colleges shut down all of its remaining campuses after the U.S. Department of Education found that it misrepresented job placement data. Education Management Corporation or EDMC, announced it would gradually shut down 15 of 52 campuses of The Art Institutes, leaving 5,400 students without a college. It recently delisted its common stock from Nasdaq after the Securities and Exchange Commission said it was not in compliance with SEC rules.

Although Trump hasn’t discussed for-profit colleges in terms of policy, as someone who once ran a for-profit college, he may be in favor of some of the measures Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Christie have suggested to support the growth of for-profit colleges, such as loosening rules on accreditation. Many of the candidates have ties to the for-profit college industry, but Trump is the only candidate who actually ran one — although it was never accredited as an actual university.

Cutting The U.S. Department Of Education ‘Way, Way, Way Down’

A popular political stance for Republicans in recent years has been to suggest eliminating the U.S. Department of Education. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) have said the department wasn’t worth keeping. In comparison, Trump’s position seems tame. He only wants to cut the department “way, way, way down.” He has not provided specifics on how much funding should be cut from the department, which administers Pell grants, provides overnight to the states to check on inequality of education between low-income and wealthy districts and is responsible for keeping national education data.

School Choice And Teachers Unions

In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve Trump supported vouchers and charter schools. In the same book, he also took a shot at teachers unions, and compared them to monopolies:

Defenders of the status quo insist that parental choice means the end of public schools. Let’s look at the facts. Right now, nine of ten children attend public schools. … When teachers’ unions say even the most minuscule program allowing school choice is a mortal threat, they’re saying: If we aren’t allowed to keep 90% of the market, we can’t survive.

In the book, Trump opposes what calls the “dumbing down” of school and blames things such as “creative spelling” and “empowerment,” saying he wants schools to challenge students and allow them to make mistakes. Creative spelling, or inventive spelling, is a pedagogical concept that allows children to spell their words in the way they speak them and then move on to learning how those words are typically spelled in the English language. Those who favor it argue that it fosters self esteem while the child is still learning, that knowledge is formed through our social and cultural context and that students who use inventive spelling may be more creative writers, while those who oppose it say it delays understanding of conventional spelling and requires more of a teacher’s time.