Where does Donald Trump stand on education? Hard to know.

Education has earned scant attention in this year’s presidential contest.

In this column, Erik Robelen tries to pin down where Republican frontrunner Donald Trump stands. Robelen is deputy director of the Education Writers Association. Before joining EWA, Robelen worked for 15 years as a reporter and editor at the national newspaper Education Week.  This piece appeared on the Educated Reporter blog.

By Erik Robelen

With Donald Trump now seen as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, after his strong victory in the Indiana primary, attention surely will grow to what he would actually do if elected.

If you want to know where Trump stands on education, you might think the first place to go would be his campaign website.

But don’t expect to find much information there. Education is not among the seven “positions” cited, which include “pay for the wall” with Mexico, healthcare reform, and 2nd Amendment rights. Under “issues,” education is one in a series of 20 videos on Trump’s campaign site and lasts all of 52 seconds.

“I’m a tremendous believer in education,” Trump begins, “but education has to be at a local level. We cannot have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education.”

The real estate mogul, who has never held elected office, then pivots in the video to the Common Core standards, adopted by most states (though some have since made changes). “Common Core is a total disaster. We can’t let it continue.”

Some analysts have noted a disconnect between Trump’s focus on local control and the desire to dismantle Common Core. After all, to do so would mean forcing states to undo their own standards.

As U.S. News & World Report journalist Lauren Camera recently explained, federal law prohibits the federal government from requiring particular standards, and the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act features very explicit language to reinforce this. (The Obama administration created financial incentives for states to adopt the Common Core–which some saw as inappropriate pressure–but they were not required to do so.)

To date, the Trump campaign has issued no position papers on education. Many analysts, education advocates, and journalists have struggled to understand what a Trump presidency would mean for education (and other issues, for that matter).

“He hasn’t spoken at great length about the topic at any one time, and he doesn’t have the kind of record on the issue that, say, a governor would,” writes Education Week reporter Andrew Ujifusa on the Politics K-12 blog. Also, “Trump has baffled education wonks,” Ujifusa notes.

However, Ujifusa helpfully supplies a few quotes and tidbits from the campaign, including a reminder that during a March debate, Trump hinted that he might name former surgeon and GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson to a key education post if elected. (Top education priorities in Carson’s campaign included school choice and local control of education.)

Harvard University Professor Martin West described Trump as a “wild card” on education during an Education Writers Association panel last week in Boston. Another panelist at the EWA National Seminar in Boston, Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, has said much the same.

“[W]hat would a President Trump mean for education? I have no idea. And neither does anyone else,” he wrote on his blog earlier this year.

Andrew Rotherham, a former education adviser to President Bill Clinton and co-founder of Bellwether Education, made this point more broadly about Trump. “We’ve never seen anybody practice politics like this,” he said during the EWA panel.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said that in her many years in New York City (where Trump has long lived), she can recall no time when he got involved in a K-12 education issue, or even supported an individual school, suggesting it’s just not been an issue on his radar. (The AFT last fall endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president.) That said, Politics K-12 notes that Trump has previously donated money to Teach For America.

Leaving aside what Trump has said about education, his charged campaign rhetoric on other issues has drawn attention, and criticism, from some educators. Politico education journalist Caitlin Emma reported last month that a state teachers’ union president in Maryland protested his planned visit to a high school there. She argued that the GOP candidate’s “divisive fear-mongering rhetoric” has no place in Maryland’s public schools.

So, back to the 52-second video. Trump states, repeatedly, that the U.S. is “28 in the world” in education, and even suggests we are behind some “Third World” countries.

He does not cite any particular source for this information, or name the countries. But the 28 nations appears to be a reference to 2012 results from the global PISA exam in mathematics. The United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, scored behind 27 other industrialized countries in that round of testing. As for the Third World comparison, it’s not clear where that comes from.

Trump concludes the campaign video by saying: “We’re going to make education an absolute priority.” So, what does that mean? With no track record on the issue, the answer will only be known if American voters hand him the presidency in the general election.

For more resources, check out EWA’s Topics page on Education & the 2016 Elections.

 

Reader Comments 0

72 comments
toneloc7701
toneloc7701

@RoyCohnsGhost I'm pretty sure he has a clear idea. Nowhere in that article said that he didn't know what common core is.

toneloc7701
toneloc7701

@RoyCohnsGhost I am pretty sure you don't realize what's going to happen if Hillary gets in. Obviously nothing good.

ewrobelen
ewrobelen

@MichaelMarriott I know! That one stung a little. I was tempted to respond, but you know where that would have led...

Mattlock Dubay
Mattlock Dubay

trump the dixiecract just like George wallace and GOP after 1964 going full racist alot of times Ah yes, the Republican Party. The party whose candidate, Ronald Reagan, kicked off his campaign with an appeal to "states' rights" in Philadelphia, Mississippi -- a town famous for a single thing, the murder of civil rights workers. by the cops and the kkk The party that proudly flies and defends the Confederate flag. The party that thrives on resentment against Mexican immigrants. The party that campaigns against fictional black "welfare queens" who drive Cadillacs and being racist to arabs and hate gays https://youtu.be/djSICSCd2_w

Timothy L. Brightharp
Timothy L. Brightharp

He doesn't care about education, he would prefer everyone be poorly educated like the majority of his supporters. It makes people easier to brainwash.

Daniel Gomez
Daniel Gomez

HE STANDS WITH THE MAJORITY OF THE AMERICAN CITIZENS !!

Tim Koss
Tim Koss

It's OK, Obama sealed his records and if he was an actual American or not so what does it matter?

Marian Chapple
Marian Chapple

This Nut is going to start a war with people right here in the United States. He's bringing out Racist from everywhere. The people in England want to have him banded from their country. He's A Laughing Matter World Wide.

Cathy Lassetter Esteves
Cathy Lassetter Esteves

Where does he stand on anything except how some female looks or how great he thinks he is???

Dona Elaine Hubbs
Dona Elaine Hubbs

As this journalist(?) states in the first paragraph, Trumps position is to abolish common core, and allow states and local governments to govern their own education system. Since he's not running for governor, or mayor, or local school board superintendent, it wouldn't be included in a POTUS platform, under his plan. He has stated the federal government has no business in local education. That's not so mysterious.

Jon Downes
Jon Downes

Maybe that's because he isn't a fan of common core or the US government dictating to the state and local school districts. He's said that education needs to be run by the state and local districts. Pretty simple to grasp without a whole lot of conversation. But when you are pushing your agenda to sway people into thinking your way I guess this would be news worthy. What a crock of crap the AJC is.

Ruth Higgins Bey
Ruth Higgins Bey

Where does he stand for all issues related to concerns of the voters! Other than surface statements about individuals, and poll calculations!

Sonya Carter
Sonya Carter

I'm getting rid of common core! Bigly! :) I've been watching this fool for months. Know all his lines. I don't know how the repubs voted for him.

Dona Elaine Hubbs
Dona Elaine Hubbs

"It's a security review", "what difference does it make", "I'm putting coal miners out of work"...because that's the other choice. We've been listening for months too..that's why we vote for him.

David Walker
David Walker

I bet one of his spokesmen could tell you where Donald stands on education. Go ask John Miller or John Barron.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

America's decision in this election will be whether its long-ranged ideological trajectory will be the inclusion of all or the exclusion of the many.  That will be fundamentally a spiritual choice.  


I only hope that there is enough of Jefferson's original ideals for America remaining, in present day consciousness, that America's future will be one of inclusion of all and of education of the masses, instead of the exclusion of the many and the ignorance of the masses, which Donald Trump has perpetuated, already.

Ed Hallman
Ed Hallman

Example of a bunch of paranoid willfully ignorant freaks. Get the hell out of the way.

Tim Ferguson
Tim Ferguson

At least he isn't sending out directives forcing schools to let teenagers share restrooms and locker rooms.

Tim Langan
Tim Langan

Are you kidding? He'll be the single greatest President ever when it comes to education. Teachers and students love him. He loves students and teachers. He's more educational than anyone. ;-)

Casandra Curry
Casandra Curry

He also loves everybody especially the poor and uneducated!!!

Brandi Ogburn
Brandi Ogburn

Because education is good and he believes in education and he's a great supporter of education because teachers love him and students love him because he such a great supporter of education... \U0001f612 Lol!!

Brian Peters
Brian Peters

Donald has already said the loves the uneducated. So as of today that's where he stands.

Dona Elaine Hubbs
Dona Elaine Hubbs

Since you're not quite up to speed, I'll help you. Reuters polling conducted from March 15 through May 7 reported Trump supporters were better educated (44% with Bachelors degree or higher) and of higher income bracket (average annual income >$60,000) than both Clinton and Sanders supporters (25% with Bachelor degree, and average annual income $34,000). Try to catch up.

Brian Peters
Brian Peters

My post isn't about Trump supporters. It's about his opinion. Smart A^&

Dona Elaine Hubbs
Dona Elaine Hubbs

Reuters polling conducted from March 15 through May 7 reported Trump supporters were better educated (44% with Bachelors degree or higher) and of higher income bracket (average annual income >$60,000) than both Clinton and Sanders supporters (25% with Bachelor degree, and average annual income $34,000). But yeah..we're anti-education. LOL

Daniel Bettis
Daniel Bettis

Dona Elaine Hubbs , could you post the source for this? I would like to read it.

Josh Cochran
Josh Cochran

Dona Elaine Hubbs thank you. I could not find the source for the poll you referenced but did find a lot about the uneducated supporting Trump. In the spirit of good manners, may I ask why you support him?

Eric Lahr
Eric Lahr

Education would be detrimental to his campaign

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Imho, Donald Trump only cares about Donald Trump. No one who indulges in rhetoric which contains such vile racism and sexism can truly care about either seeking truth or in educating the American public. Trump, imo, is a dangerous wild card who knows mainly how to con the uneducated. How could he, in good faith, lead any educational endeavor?

Debra Fish
Debra Fish

Because you aren't watching his rallies.

Mitchell N Alison
Mitchell N Alison

He needs to get rid of the Department of Education. Education should be left up to the states not the feds!

Patrick T. Onion
Patrick T. Onion

Maybe there is little to no mention of education because the federal government needs to get the hell out of our schools!

Jessica Conroy
Jessica Conroy

Ga is almost last in the US and you are ok with it

Jessica Conroy
Jessica Conroy

A few elementary schools around where I live in Druid Hills, Inman area did test runs of the milestone in the fall, told the state it wasn't feasible, computer glitches, etc and were told this wasn't so by the state. And what do you know after all that pressure on our kids, teachers, money spent they were Not able to count those tests and some counties foolishly regiving them even though it was the states inadequacies that caused it. Basically a punishment for the kids. Georgia needs federal intervention Now. Also With the opt out trend the state needs to ensure All counties know it's actually permitted and they follow proper protocol. Many rural counties stuck their foot In their mouth with this as well. Causing lawsuits, wasted valuable time trying to fight families opting out of tests. Good thing more and more people are opting out so it's starting to be handled better. These are our kids, they deserve better. Someone needs to educate this state on educational law, protocol. Instead many Georgians are condescending and elitist towards children, people who don't receive a proper education as opposed to helping poor performing schools rise up. We are almost the lowest performing state in the US. The federal government needs to ensure our children receive better!

Patrick T. Onion
Patrick T. Onion

You need to wake up. All these systems are mandated by the federal government and the BS no child left behind act. It should actually be named the carrot on a stick act. The federal government for decades now have hung this carrot of "free money" out there for these school systems telling them, "use this money to make your schools better." They got the school systems dependent on the money (same thing done to those receiving food stamps and other government aid) then they tell the school, "if you want to keep getting this money, you now have to teach what we want you to teach and while you are at it, the girlie feeling boys must be allowed to use your daughter's restroom." You make a deal with the devil, don't expect to get your soul back.