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Education Under the Trump Administration

By Cynthia Dominguez, Clarion Staff

Throughout the course of the recent Presidential election, the general consensus among the public was that the next four years would be unpredictable regardless of the income level. Leading up to the election, millennials active on social media outpoured support for Senator Bernie Sanders, yet the winner of the election happened to be the opposite of Sanders. Most young adults and politically active teenagers surged forward at the promises made by Sanders of a minimum wage increase and more accessibility to free college tuition. These same young adults were deflated after the Hillary Clinton’s captured the Democratic Party ticket and were completely disgruntled with the victory of Donald Trump in the general election.

Regardless of what opinion a young adult may hold towards President Trump and his cabinet, it is important to know what future the Trump Administration has planned for Americans. This future includes the education system, which seems extremely uncertain with the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Although many have critiqued her appointment to her position in the cabinet, DeVos, not surprisingly, aligns with many of the policies advocated by the Trump Administration during campaign season.

Although neither Trump nor DeVos have officially released any plans for education the Trump Administration did articulate some loose goals for the education system. Most of the prominent policies formulated by the Trump Administration include expanding school choice and altering the student loans system.

Both DeVos and Trump think highly of expanding school choice, which would require federal and state governments to provide funds for every student so that parents have the ability to decide where their children go to school. This funding would allow students to attend public, charter, or private schools without economic burden. The amount of money it would take to fund this expansion of school choice is unknown, but this funding would most likely manifest in the form of school vouchers, which take money given by the federal government to fund public schools and give them to parents. These vouchers give the parents the opportunity to give their students the best education they can, and promotes competition among all schools to offer the best programs to attract students. This system also has downsides as it undermines the public education system by taking some of the best preforming students, resulting in lower standardized test scores and taking away funding from public schools.

Policies such as increased school choice affects students from elementary to high school, but there are also suggested changes in policy for college students. Throughout the election, Trump and his campaign team suggested lowering federal intervention in student loans. Trump has promoted making colleges economically responsible if their students are unable to repay their student debts to reduce federal intervention. This would promote monetary penalties on colleges if their students cannot repay their student debts, leading colleges to chose applicants who are most likely to repay their debts (usually those with a higher income), making the admissions process more challenging for already financially struggling applicants. Decreasing federal loaners would promote private loaners who usually have less generous payment options and higher interest rates. Nevertheless, reducing federal lending would be unspeakably difficult and expensive.

The changes in education policy are still unknown to students of all ages with the lack of information from the Trump administration, but previously suggested plans and policies give an insight to the future of general and higher education. Like most education policies and suggestions for reform, the pros and cons of Trump and DeVos’ visions for the future of education are subject to personal opinion and priorities.

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