Trump promotes `school choice’ in State of the Union

President Donald Trump in his State of the Union address on Tuesday called for Congress to “pass school choice,” but lawmakers seem unlikely to comply with his request. 

Trump said “school choice” would “help working families” but did not elaborate further. 

The 115th Congress turned aside attempts by Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to dedicate federal education funding to “school choice” programs that typically involve funneling money away from K-12 public schools into vouchers or “scholarship funds” to pay for private school tuition. KASB’s federal legislative policy opposes the use of public funding, directly or through tax credits, to support schools that are not required to accept all students on the same basis as public schools; are not required to meet the academic, performance and financial accountability standards of public schools; and are outside of the system of both local and state oversight. Conversations between Capitol Hill staff and Kansas school board members in January did not indicate widespread support for “school choice” in the 116th Congress. 

 (The 2017 federal tax overhaul resulted in parents being able to use “529” college savings plans to pay for K-12 private school tuition; it’s not clear how that provision is or might help the parents of the poor or otherwise at-risk students who are traditionally the target for voucher and other “school choice” initiatives.) 

 DeVos addressed the National School Boards Association’s 2019 Advocacy Institute on January 28, making numerous references to education “freedom.” On Tuesday evening, she applauded Trump’s State of the Union “school choice” reference.

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