By Michael W. Chapman- (CNSNews.com) – As presented on the campaign trail and detailed on the Trump-Pence website, President–elect Donald Trump wants to implement school choice programs in all 50 states that will allow students and their parents to pick the school that works best for them, and the money to pay for it will follow the student, not the school bureaucracy.
“If we can put a man on the moon, dig out the Panama Canal, and win two World Wars, then I have no doubt that we, as a nation, can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America,” said Trump in a Sept. 8 speech in Cleveland, Ohio.
The proposal calls for using $20 billion in federal funds to incentivize the states to start (or expand their existing) school choice programs.
From there, “if the states collectively contribute $110 billion of their own education budgets toward school choice,” said Trump, “on top of the $20 billion in federal dollars, that could provide $12,000 in school choice funds to every K-12 student who today lives in poverty.”
“The money will follow the student,” he said. “That means the student will be able to attend the public, private, charter, or magnet school of their choice – and each state will develop its own system that works for them.” Trump reportedly has added home schools to the proposal.
There are a some school choice programs in the United States, but they are limited and vary widely in terms of which schools a student may choose; who is eligible to participate; how many students may participate; and how much funding is available for each program.
For example, California does not offer private school choice, but it allows intra-district and inter-district open enrollment at its public schools, reports the Heritage Foundation. Texas offers the same as California. Virginia does not allow private school choice or public school choice and it has “weak charter school laws, reported Heritage.
In his speech, Trump emphasized the need to help American students in the inner cites to be offered the opportunity to pick their school, which will help them to get on the ladder to success.
“We are one nation, and when any part of our country hurts, our whole country hurts,” said Trump. “My goal as president will be to ensure that every child in the nation – African-American, Hispanic-American, all Americans – will be placed on the ladder of success: a great education, a great job.”
“The Democratic Party has trapped millions of African-American and Hispanic youth in failing government schools that deny them the opportunity to join the ladder of American success,” he said. “It is time to break up that monopoly.”
“I want every single inner-city child in America who is today trapped in a failing school to have the freedom – the civil right – to attend the school of their choice,” said Trump. “Our government spends more than enough money to easily pay for this initiative, with billions left over. It’s simply a matter of putting students first, not the education bureaucracy.”
He then explained that the United States, at the state and federal levels, spends approximately $620 billion on K-12 education each year. (The federal government kicks in $64 billion and states provide about $570 billion.) That averages to $12,296 for every student.
Chicago, for instance, spends about $11,976 per student, said Trump, and Los Angeles spends about $10,602. New York City spends $20,226 per student.
By offering $20 billion more in federal funds to encourage states to participate in school choice – to establish (or expand) their own programs for their citizens – “it would create a massive education market that is competitive and produces better outcomes,” said Trump. (Currently, only about $1.9 billion is spent on school choice programs nationwide.)
The $20 billion would be allocated to states that “have private school choice and charter laws, encouraging them to participate,” said Trump.
“These schools would then cater to the needs of the individual student and family, not the needs of the Teachers’ Union,” he said.
“But the $20 billion is only the beginning,” said Trump. “As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty…. Each state will develop its own formula, but we want the dollars to follow the student.”
“I will use the pulpit of the presidency to campaign for this in all 50 states,” he said, “and I will call upon the American people to elect officials at the city, state and federal level who support school choice.”