Donald Trump Jr. And The GOP Push for School Choice at RNC


Chastity Pratt Dawsey

The 2016 Democratic primary has focused a lot on the cost of higher education. Bernie Sanders’ campaign heavily influenced Hillary Clinton to change her education platform closer to his proposal of making college tuition free for some and relieving students of college loans. But what do we know about Republicans approaching education this election?

Chastity Pratt Dawsey, reporter at Bridge Magazine, joins Detroit Today with producer Laura Weber-Davis and guest co-host Chuck Wilbur, former WDET News Director and long-time policy consultant. 

The Clinton administration has a long-running platform that she has built since her initial run in 2008. On the other hand, Trump has not developed a detailed education plan. He has suggested that he supports vouchers to private schools and expansion of charter schools.

Here’s a comparison of Clinton’s and Trump’s education stances from 

During his RNC speech on Tuesday night, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. has this to say:

The other party gave us public schools that far too often fail our students, especially those who have no options. Growing up, my siblings and I, we were truly fortunate to have choices and options that others don’t have. We want all Americans to have those same opportunities. Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class. Now they’re stalled on the ground floor. They’re like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers - for the teachers and the administrators and not the students. You know why other countries do better on K-12? They let parents choose where to send their own children to school. That’s called competition. It’s called the free market. And it’s what the other party fears.”

In reference to choice and competition, Pratt Dawsey says, “those two comments don’t go together”. This platform is unprecedented, Wilbur says, “We haven’t seen presidents make vouchers a main thrust of their education policy.” At the state level we have a prohibition and a strong constitutional ban against vouchers in Michigan, he notes.

In addition, Trump has called for American college students to ask private banks for student loans before applying for federal loans and Pell grants. If the federal government gets out of the loan business, Pratt Dawsey questions, ”How’s that going to affect people who already have limited college access… low income, and that might not have the credit to get those loans?”. 

Furthermore, there could be a possible split between Trump, “chamber of commerce” Republicans, Tea Party Republicans, and the business community in the party. The business community has pushed for national educational standards and supported Common Core from the beginning. Wilbur says, ”here we have a candidate that wastes no opportunity to dis common core”.

Click on the audio player above to hear the entire conversation.

Image credit: Elizabeth Garrett

This post is a part of 2016 Elections: Issues & Candidates.

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