At his CEO Business Town Hall Tuesday, President Donald Trump returned to his campaign promise to end the highly unpopular Common Core standards and once again make education policy the domain of local governments.
“Common Core, I mean, we have to bring education more local,” Trump said at the White House. “We can’t be managing education from Washington.”
The president continued:
When I go out to Iowa, when I go out to the different states and I talk, they want to run their school programs locally and they’ll do a much better job… And I like the fact of getting rid of Common Core. You know, Common Core, to me, we have to end it. We have to bring education local, to me. I’ve always said it, I’ve been saying it during the campaign, and we’re doing it.
This month, concerns had arisen about Trump’s commitment to his oft-repeated campaign promise to end Common Core. Toward the tail end of his campaign, Trump’s message shifted from the termination of the controversial standards to school choice.
American Principles Project senior fellow Emmett McGroarty welcomes the return of Trump’s attention to the problematic standards that were quickly adopted by states in exchange for the promise of federal cash and relief from onerous federal regulations.
“More than any other President — or even presidential candidate — ever, Donald Trump has empathized with our citizens, particularly parents, who have seen firsthand the damage done by federal efforts to shape and dictate education policy,” McGroarty said in a statement.
“Today’s comments show that President Trump has not forgotten his promise to end Common Core and return to local control of education,” he added. “He is taking seriously the assurance he made in his Inaugural Address, ‘Today… we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American people.’”
Trump also said his education secretary Betsy DeVos is “doing a terrific job.”
“Highly respected, tremendous track record, but she’s got one of the toughest jobs of any of our secretaries, to me, she’s got one of the toughest jobs,” the president added.
DeVos went to Washington, D.C., to assume her post after working on school choice and school voucher programs in her home state of Michigan. While many in Trump’s base believe school choice is a desirable goal, the view of conservatives and libertarians is that school choice can best be achieved naturally with the elimination of the federal education department.
A recent Heritage Foundation panel of education policy professionals urged the Trump administration and Washington politicians to refrain from making school choice a federal program.
DeVos has drawn concern over some of her decisions and comments since assuming her post. For example, the secretary has surrounded herself with advisers and staff who have ties to Jeb Bush – a vocal proponent of Common Core – as well as to Indiana, where Common Core was repealed but then simply “rebranded.”
DeVos also recently said the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) “essentially does away with the notion of a Common Core,” a statement many grassroots parent activists still battling against the Core in their states have flatly rejected.
Though ESSA still requires the federal education department to approve of state education plans, DeVos, nevertheless, also said in a recent speech, “I share the founders’ belief that those closest to problems usually know best how to solve them.”
Debbie Higginbotham, a spokesperson for Florida Parents RISE, tells Breitbart News DeVos’s comments suggest much ambiguity.
“Secretary Devos’s equating ESSA with ‘federalism’ as it relates to education is the central problem we all face,” she explains. “There is zero provision in the Constitution, deliberately so by the founders, for the federal government to have any purview over education. It was – and is – an issue of local control and sovereignty.”
Higginbotham also argues that DeVos’s claim she is a federalist is in sharp contrast to the ESSA law:
It’s disturbing for the reason that if she holds a true belief in federalism, then she would urge Congress to write a bill that would truly allow the states to: take care of their students with proven, challenging educational standards; eliminate high stakes testing; invite local control of education policy at the school board level; and issue no penalty to the states for replacing the Common Core State Standards with a set of standards of their choice.
McGroarty says Trump’s leadership on the elimination of Common Core in the states is vital from this point forward.
“Every Swamp creature will unite to fight against the president on this, so his leadership will be critical,” he explains. “We look forward to seeing what steps the Trump Administration will take in the coming months to take power away from Washington D.C. and return it to parents.”