WASHINGTON (UPI) — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Thursday unveiled a new $20 billion initiative to enable children from poor families to choose which school they will attend.
Trump’s plan, outlined in a four-point education policy paper, would reallocate $20 billion from existing federal spending and create block grants for states to administer, with the goal of providing direct financial aid to the estimated 11 million children living below the federal poverty level. Trump said the money should be used by states to enable students to afford tuition at private schools if the family wants to avoid sending their child to an under-performing public school. The money would also go to support students in charter schools and magnet schools.
Trump’s plan does not identify what “existing federal dollars” would be re-appropriated to pay for the large education investment.
Trump’s plan also calls for the institution of national merit pay for teachers to replace the tenure system, which he said rewards bad teachers with raises while failing to acknowledge teachers who exceed their peers in the classroom.
Trump’s plan stops short of requiring states to use the federal dollars to institute what many have referred to as a school voucher program or do away with teacher tenure, two positions strongly opposed by most Democrats. Instead, Trump said he would use “the pulpit of the presidency” to campaign in all 50 states for his education plan.
“To achieve this long-term goal of school choice, Mr. Trump make [sic] this a shared national mission – to bring hope to every child in every city in this land. Mr. Trump will use the pulpit of the presidency to campaign for this in all 50 states and will call upon the American people to elect officials at the city, state and federal level who support school choice.”
He said the details of how states would structure the grants would be their decision.
“Each state will develop its own formula, but the dollars should follow the student,” Trump said.