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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Trump Expected to Order Study of Federal Role in Education

From The Washington Post

By Emma Brown
April 26, 2017

"... advocates who welcomed the attention on civil rights fear that the Trump administration’s campaign to shrink the federal role in education will translate into weaker protections for vulnerable students."


President Trump is expected to sign an executive order Wednesday that would require Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to study how the federal government “has unlawfully overstepped state and local control,” according to a White House official.

Trump has repeatedly pledged to downsize the Education Department and its role in U.S. schools and colleges. The order he plans to sign is “intended to return authority to where Congress intended — state and local entities,” the White House official wrote in an e-mail.

The GOP has long been home to lawmakers who felt that the federal government should not be involved in public education. But complaints of federal overreach intensified during Barack Obama’s administration as the Education Department wielded billions of dollars in stimulus funds — and promises of relief from the much-reviled No Child Left Behind law — to push states toward adopting new teacher evaluations and Common Core academic standards.

A bipartisan 2015 law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, transferred much authority over public schools from the federal government to the states. But many on the right are looking for signs that the Trump administration will push further to unwind the federal role in education


Trump’s executive order brings “welcome attention to a much-overlooked problem of behavior that has festered through all administrations,” said Jeanne Allen, a veteran of the Reagan administration who now runs the D.C.-based Center for Education Reform, which advocates for vouchers, charter schools and other forms of choice.

It’s not clear how long the study will take or what if any action the Trump administration would take in response to the findings. Allen said she’s hopeful that DeVos will get rid of the Education Department’s guidance to schools on a range of issues — something the secretary could do without involvement from Congress, as she did in February when she withdrew controversial guidance to schools on accommodating transgender students.

Obama’s Education Department was notably aggressive on civil rights in schools, not only in directing schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms matching their gender identity, but also in pushing for school-discipline reforms and in pushing colleges to overhaul their handling of sexual assaults on campus.

Those efforts, coupled with the department’s sometimes wide-ranging investigations into thousands of complaints of alleged discrimination against students nationwide, also led to complaints of federal overreach in some quarters.

But advocates who welcomed the attention on civil rights fear that the Trump administration’s campaign to shrink the federal role in education will translate into weaker protections for vulnerable students.

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