President Trump’s Education Agenda

When it comes to education, president-elect Donald Trump divulged few details regarding his plans for K-12 and higher education reform. Though he has not outlined a detailed plan, Trump has provided an overview of the changes he plans to make during his tenure in the White House.

In reference to K-12 education, Trump highlights emphasis on school choice and the importance of giving parents more power in their children’s education. He also spoke of reducing the role of the Education Department, limiting their influence and power over how states run their schools.

He gave even less information with regard to higher education, but he did briefly touch on revamping how much colleges and universities charge for tuition, how they use endowment funds, and how much their administrators are paid. Additionally, he addressed income-based repayment for student loans.

Here is a detailed look at how a Trump presidency will shape the education landscape of the future.

Trump’s Vision for Education


K-12 Education

The president-elect is placing heavy emphasis on school choice, which would allow parents to choose the school they want their child to attend regardless of district restrictions. He is also planning to reduce federal oversight of education, which would give more power back to state and local governments.

In order to make the changes he is suggesting, which will require funding and some kind of federal involvement on how funds are allocated to the states, Trump’s policies for K-12 education would require the approval of Congress.

Post-secondary Education

Trump plans to remove the tax exemption status many colleges and universities currently rely on for endowment funds. Additionally, the president-elect would require higher education institutions to make drastic changes to how much administrators are paid and the price of tuition.

Trump has not provided an outline or details as to how he plans to implement these suggested changes, which makes it difficult to determine whether or not congressional involvement is necessary.

American Public Schools


Common Core

When asked about Common Core, Trump vowed to repeal the set of educational standards. However, as The Atlantic reports, this is not under his jurisdiction as it is a set of standards adopted by states on an individual basis. Other than his comments on repealing Common Core, little else has been said about whether or not Trump plans on making revisions or enhancements to the standards set to determine student success.

School Choice

Trump is strongly advocating for the expansion of school choice through private and charter schools and magnet programs. According to his website, school choice would allow students living in poverty an equal opportunity for quality education. Trump states school choice is, “vital to reverse inequities in education and failing government schools.”

School choice, according to Trump, will also lower the cost spent per student on a national basis. He plans to fund his vision for reform using a combination of federal and state funds, which will require both approval from Congress and the cooperation of individual states.

An immediate investment of $20 billion, which will be provided by already existing federal dollars, will fund school choice. These federal dollars, Trump’s website states, will be reprioritized from funds that already exist rather than raising additional monies through taxes. This measure will require the approval of Congress.

The plan will also require individual states to contribute a collective amount of $110 billion from their individual education budgets. In conjunction with the federal dollars, these funds will theoretically provide a budget of $12,000 per student living at or below the poverty level for a total of 11 million students.

Trump wants to reduce the role of the federal government in education. As stated by The Washington Post and The Atlantic, Trump plans to drastically reduce or even dismantle the Education Department, thereby giving more power to local and state governments. The smaller governments would then be charged with determining the success of their students and their schools without much recourse from the federal government.

American Universities


When asked about higher education, Trump focused on four key factors:

  • The use of endowments
  • Tuition costs
  • The income of the administrators in higher education
  • Student loan repayment

Trump focused most on how a university uses endowment funds. According to Inside Higher Ed, he stated that colleges and universities with large endowments needed to use those funds to control the rising tuition rates, making college more affordable and reducing the need for federally provided student loans. Trump also criticized the salaries of high-profile administrators within the higher education landscape, and stated these salaries needed to be slashed with the monies reinvested in the institutions themselves. He did not provide any further information on how he plans to reduce the cost of college.

The president-elect briefly discussed the issue of student loans, suggesting a more robust income-repayment program, but he did not provide any further details on how this would be achieved.

Overall, Donald Trump, though he’s provided a vague outline of changes, has not provided many details on how he will implement policy to make the changes he referenced on the campaign trail.