Donald Trump

President Donald Trump’s may be signaling his ideas on education reform in ways never seen before in history.

Saul (2016) reported that President Donald Trump is in favor of school vouchers and charter schools. Mr. Trump rolled out the banner element in his education plan — the $20 billion program to promote “school choice.” Along with the federal money, States also would be encouraged to kick dollars into a pool so that low-income children could select their schools, including private and charter schools (Saul, 2016, para. 12).

Betsy DeVos, the Michigan billionaire, who will become President Trump’s education secretary, is another example of Trump’s doctrine on education. DeVos has come under fire by critics for allegations that she believes in privatizing the country’s public education system. DeVos’ supporters praise her as a longtime advocate for school choice.

Will President Trump’s educational initiatives be good for educational reform?

Freelance journalist Shawn Andrews asked Edward Brown of the American Academy of Advanced Thinking about his views on the future of education under the Trump administration.

Shawn: It seems evident that President Trump favors charter schools and school vouchers from available data. What does his choice of Betsy DeVos as education secretary signal?

Brown: If you look at all of the captains of industry that President Trump has nominated for cabinet posts, he is signaling that he embraces a market-driven approach to governance, which includes education. As a business capitalist, President Trump believes that most societal institutions are better off being ran by people who have a history of building things.

Shawn: How does entrepreneurialism tie into education?

Brown: Over the course of his public life, President Trump has demonstrated that creativity and inventiveness are best shown though tangible, visual outcomes. Consequently, if President Trump can’t privatize all of public education, he can at least make education more competitive within the U.S. President Trump believes in the market forces of competition as a way of improving conditions based on the self-interest of individuals. His philosophy is Machiavellian and steeped in Milton Friedman economics.

decision making process

Shawn: How does a competitive environment look within the field of education?

Brown: President Trump would say that education has been sullied by political wrangling, as well as education curriculum not keeping up with economic reality. In Trump’s sphere, economic and market forces dictate the value of education. Consequently, school curriculum would be designed around market needs in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic. If charter schools and school vouchers create students that are prepared for a global economy, public schools will have to become more creative by developing similar systems to maintain their tax base. The economic viability of municipalities rest on home owners and business people investing in that community. If that investment is moved elsewhere, that district suffers. Educational competition forces individuals to thrive or die.

Shawn: What other education initiatives come out of this philosophy?

Brown: Educators and students will have to create intellectual property to demonstrate critical thinking mastery to get ahead in a global economy. Remember, at his core, President Trump is a builder (steeped in his upbringing as a real estate developer). Consequently, his “America First” proclamation is not only a clarion call for patriotism, but also a call for intellectual ingenuity. From an educational perspective, this primarily is manifested through articles, books, podcasts, and videos that help industries become more productive and profitable. The new student has to become an “eco-social scientist” who can solve problems and make decisions that enhance his/her self-worth, as well as contribute to the economy. President Trump’s pro-military and pro-law enforcement stance ensures that the role of the government is to encourage and protect human progress at all cost.

Shawn: Interesting. Any final thoughts?

Brown: Contrary to popular sentiments, this could be a time of great opportunity for those who prepare for Trump’s political-economic theory. A push towards pure capitalism is a shift from the socialistic leanings of the past. President Trump’s political trajectory upends that of FDR’s New Deal. Unfortunately, when President Trump talks about making America great again, he’s vague about what period of time he’s referring to. However, Trump’s initiatives aspire to make American students more competitive and innovative. Only time will tell whether these policies are effective.   

Edward S. Brown III, M.S., is the author of The Great Man Theory: Strengths & Weaknesses of Charismatic Leadership on Amazon. 

Reference(s): 

Saul, Stephanie (2016, Nov. 21). Where Donald Trump stands on School Choice, Student Debt, and Common Core. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/us/where-trump-stands-on-school-choice-student-debt-and-common-core.html?_r=0.

Strauss, V. (2017, January 27). Se. Franken: No Democrat will vote for Betsy DeVos as education secretary-and we’re seeking Republicans to oppose her. The Washington Post. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/01/27/sen-franken-no-democrat-will-vote-for-betsy-devos-as-education-secretary-and-were-seeking-republicans-to-oppose-her/?utm_term=.afdb0296d3a5.