DiscoverVox's The WeedsTrump's Surprisingly Ambitious Education Agenda

Trump's Surprisingly Ambitious Education Agenda

Update: 2016-12-07
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Matt is joined by Libby Nelson to discuss Donald Trump's big plans for K-12 education and his massive financial conflicts of interest.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

the following podcast contains explicit language the second time education first and I met some correction the Hello welcome to another episode of the weeds boxes policy podcast apparently network Ezra is on vacation and I believe in Arizona and Sarah is off for pointing some places in the wilds of Kentucky said on Instagram with her at what I believe was the Kentucky Fried Chicken museum so I hope to get some some hot at KFC takes to a vegetarian when she's back for this week I'm joined by my esteemed colleague email send a box not calm it's really good to have you here that high you did a couple of sets of weeds before so hopefully people know you and what I wanted to start out by Time Out is at education which is that where you have a lot of background as a journalist and which I would say did not play a big role in the twenty sixteen that is pain that is like a dramatic understatement there is this game in the education policy journals and community which is small but vibrant during the debates during the campaign of like just betting on when he would ever mention education I was basically the person saying shut up you never going to mention education um so yeah K twelve particularly I actually can't think of it I am it was mentioned in any significant way it's possible he made a school choice beach at some point but it never came up to debate it never came up it's like a big policy area of contention and yet here we are it wasn't in his rallies we basically had to fire you if you want to a different B entirely this is totally germ that is not kidding I was not fired but wait yes I mean you can see how much Donald Trump talking about K twelve education was not in the campaign because you think about education in the campaign it was Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders argued about college great and even I mean even trumps one of the president's trumps more interesting ideas was also about higher ed and it was very much the frame and for for good reasons I think the last time I was on this podcast was to basically talk about the way in which K twelve have been put to rest by the new law that Congress passed about a year ago and Obama signed in January it really seemed like the debate about the future of K twelve in America we're going to be suspended for the next four years at least arguably a day just was not a front burner issue and so we did not have a big debate about it as you predicted but I read on the internet website Vox I come recently that Donald Trump actually has an ambitious K twelve education proposal that he has I guess never trust them you found it somewhere he did okay so I'm overstating the one speech of others on the campaign trail I don't believe all the way I was so sort of knot on the education beat that I am not sure that I checked I don't believe there were many details of the time but there is on his campaign website which now after his one actually looks like a normal campaign website with all of the policy areas rather than building the wall and light to others there is a dissection on K twelve and he essentially has a plan to convert the entire system of funding for poor kids in schools into a voucher system which is a pretty standard Republican idea and that has this weird multiplier effect proposal that would actually create a very robust system of school vouchers at the federal level for the first time ok so lets us Baucus Baucus and eleven so that the federal government is not like the primary actor in in K twelve education but it has this pretty significant in funding stream that the you reference said that E is supposed to finance education in districts that have a lot of low income children liao work that gets called the Title one program there's it's about fourteen billion a year which is a drop in the bucket in terms of how much people's how much is spent on education nationally but it is that it is the most significant federal presence in the idea is their grants that are meant to go primarily to schools with a pretty high concentration of disadvantaged kids measured by getting to qualify for free or cheaper school lunch and under current policy I mean what do you do with that money as a as I sort of high poverty school you can so you can use a non professional development you can use an additional resource that there actually are some studies that suggest it doesn't make a huge massive difference either way it is meant to go to the school and it's meant to be a resource to sort of help with this challenge of educating a concentrated population of of this event I mean I think in DC I think like in a school zone into and they use the money to do preschool offerings that don't exist in that wealthier yeah they can do that they could do I'm sort of remedial tutoring type stuff they can hire people that to train teachers there's a lot of the can do with that but it's also pretty I mean it's a big program when I say it's you know concentrate schools of concentrated property about half of all American school kids get free or reduced priced in lunch and I think the threshold for Title one is somewhere it's below half if you have have below half of your body meeting that so that a lot of school soon but it is read to the public school population is considerably poorer than the national rate of twenty and that the threshold for further reduced and free lunches is higher than the threshold for poverty is another thing I should mention that about two hundred percent ok so a lot of schools are getting this money and the idea of the money as it currently stands is like you have your core school and I have a little bit extra money that you can use a lot of different ways Great at like five hundred dollars for kids haven't infected with the goal of somehow me and Trump wants to take that money can do what he wants to turn it into a voucher which means basically in this context that instead of school with and hit that threshold getting more of this money every poor kid would come with sort of a small federal bounty of like five hundred and five hundred dollars or whatever it as that would go to whatever school they are attending regardless of whether that the public school private school charter school and this is by the way I should say this is the really really standard Republican policy proposals called Title one portability if you want to sound smart around education policy people so when in a practical sense that might me not that much difference conceivably write me at if the kids might just stay in the schools that they ran and schools would still get the five hundred dollars buy in places like DC has a big charter schools yet sector and so that would mean that money would tend to flow out of the neighborhood schools into charters yet the other phrase word make a big difference is that schools like the schools that I went to which were nigh schools alive concentrated poverty because there are playoffs and small apartment complexes and things they're worse you know small handful of kids who got free or distant lands and that's they at the time the school really did not get the money for them this would mean that those suburban schools wealthier schools would end up with at least a little slice of pie ok so so low poverty schools would get more federal mine great high poverty schools would get less federal money the idea is kids should be able to transfer within a district into the money would follow them and that's where this or the bout radiate come then but I like when you think about the fact that a lot of the inequalities between districts rather than within them that certify the strands into a bit of a wall in terms of making a concrete difference for her kids' education ok so that's fourteen billion dollars it's a change that I mean I I don't want to dismiss said obviously some schools would lose a lot of money under the sad and there will be no requirement right so the scorn of rich area would get a little bit more money because it has some low income kids in it but it would be no requirement to like spend that money on specifically helping those kids as opposed to Yeah I don't believe yeah yeah I don't believe in trying to think of that was in this is come up legislative Lee a lot and I don't think there is requirement in the latest iteration of that and then rewrite of No Child Left Behind that happen last year part of it was like softening the requirements on schools to say to meet performance standards for sort of under performing groups weight so I say this came at the opposite a man meant it when it's one of those amendments that is hardcore beloved by a pretty large segment of Republicans in Congress by practical aid Obama was never going to sign into law and so it dropped off during the during the debate on the bell so that means this is something that seems like it has a high likelihood of happening in a Republican Congress Republican administration that is the reason it didn't happen in the last bell is that they wanted to get a deal done yes I would anyway I am hesitant to predict anything but I would say it's fair to say there's strong support among Republicans in both the House and Senate including the chairman of the Senate Education Committee on this idea so it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility it is certainly more be hard core Republican base thing than a everybody thinks it's possible it would run into something in the Senate that I'm not thinking about that lake it's yeah it's it's certainly not a crazy idea in terms of whether or not it's likely to happen so it's they've been pushing it yet it's been so it goes back to Reagan was not this is not now okay but there's there's like a bigger elements yes this is for transplant it's really interesting weird how every sort of I don't wanna look at it because the fact is a five hundred and fifty five dollars voucher if you're looking at wanting to really do to either send kids out of the public school system are and that the words of supporters of this plan would be really give them a meaningful choice five hundred dollars vouchers not going to give you much of a meaningful choice if you're looking at the cost of private school tuitions and so we turn once to do is to somehow sort of turned into wine this funding for poor kids plus an extra six billion from sources he d probably special education into a sort of big grant program for states and they worry that grants in a way that in set of eyes is getting states to kick in pretty significant amount of their own money to turn this into a voucher that would magically give students like between I think it's ten to twelve thousand dollars which is really that like that's the meaning of an associate he hears this would create a states that have like a lot of Republicans in elective office who may be inclined to word hey maybe we should do a Jain voucher program or maybe like worried about the practicality is of that bubble I would become much more of a sort of a downhill slope if you if you were predisposed to think that rising the public schools and was a good idea now the federal government would be really financially incentivize you to do that was under the current system years a little bit challenge yet you're pretty much on around you can you certainly can there are states that have state about her incident we can talk about the evidence from those but if you are a Republican controlled state somewhat inclined that way this is the optimistic are these sort of optimistic version for Republicans in Congress who I don't think I would have some issue I would think with sort of the federal government saying it now all states you must also do this is that it would provide cover we tried this phrase that it sounds like it something more than that it sounds like it's actually incentivize the Badgers in some way the other thing that that sort of gets you to a larger amount for Cade is this is only for children in poverty which is about eleven million kids and that's a much smaller number than the number of kids who are considered quite hope or for title purposes so this is leaving out a big chunk of Lakeport but not quite that pour so I have a very very ok so we just sat back and try to understand how this goes somewhere I have frequently been a little uncertain is like what is a valid term program verses charter schools and other things that are so we know like a traditional public school the idea as lie you have a house somewhere and you go to a map the map says ok the kids who live here go to the school and then like a guide and maybe there's some provision that you could apply to the school in another neighborhood it and that's like public schools re as we know yet and this is the actually pretty important if you're talking about the context of education reform because there's a sort of broader movement called school choice and that is just sort of the idea that you should have any kind of toys that is not just the school years and a while and that sort of splits off politically Lake said the first the first level is is is charter schools which are privately Ryan independently Rhine I sometimes buy it by a for profit company usually nine and publicly funded and said those have some of the characteristics of a private school in terms of be more independent and not necessarily having to have unionized teachers not having to abide by that collective bargaining agreements doing things like a longer school day having themes but are still sort of Turner's charter supporters will adamantly tell you that the titles of public schools and so are sort of part of the idea of public schools of the whole vouchers are whole step beyond that which is essentially you get honestly the best way to think about vouchers is to think about how college financing works in America if you are pouring qualify for Pell grants you get that mountain out of money you can go to any college you choose the federal government will send that money to that college will pay or tuitions and that's essentially about his work you have X amount of money from the state and or local and or private in some cases a privately funded voucher program you can go to any school that will take them which is not necessarily every public school that every private school that exists around you and that money will flow at all but I find this distinction between the vouchers and charter schools a little bit puzzling why so alike in in DC we we have allowed charter school right there around you can send your kid to them they lose schools get money from that I don't know like the city's education department wide proportionate to the amount of kids who are enrolled in the raid but also those schools are run independently and they have at least some of them have like extra music financial support to ride so like so like day camp in Shaw where we live each gets money from the city when kids enroll there but also there like a big well known national brand charter school brand by rich people who like them give money to have some separate bore so like how how is that different from theirs a private school called camp that has some donors and also collects money from the students who come there yet the big differences religion and the vast majority of private schools in the US are not secular and fostered I mean some traders schools are like affiliated in some ways with religious groups there's this weird controversy about Turkish when that doesn't really matter I fretted School the private school vouchers in fact even the fact it has a massive transfer of funds from sort of non secular non affiliated secular institutions to mostly Catholic I religiously affiliated institutions of the day with the other one is that all charter schools can do some things and have to be really careful here as far as selecting the students that they have in some cases private schools and a whole lot more okay so okay so I think it is important to qualify as a charter school in most charter systems the sec two things you have to do their private school doesn't have to do one is that like for First Amendment reasons you can have like a crucifix is up in the class were great you can have like organized prayer activities say things like that I mean he had urged the judge could in theory open a charter school that would have to function as a Gabby knew it would have to function like a non affiliated school I mean this is the same stuff that has bugged religious people about Publix right is right you can't you can have like Bible study guys like that thing or a right so that's one and then the other is that the admissions has to be open in some sense you have lotteries when they are over subscribed or you have I think in some places you can have like a neighborhood preference system is but you can't say you have to take it as yet there were other ways like you can in sum there have been his is where their print one bomber why are some things they can do to sort of nudge admissions toward getting kids were more qualified but that is a world of difference from like we will look at your grades and your behavior record and we've all just arbitrarily decide as admissions committee there and play and this is like an allegation right alike in New York is frequently alleged as if scandalous charge that Eva Moskowitz is charter schools are implicitly screening out underperforming misbehaving kid yet where is if you were to say that about the city's parochial schools they would just be I guess that is what a wonder there isn't scared like that like I did so with charter schools is like a controversy are they cute or they secretly on getting rid of the troubled kid greater ye are encouraging the veterans were intended to implicate your not suppose it is not the ideal of what charters where I think is the fare worse in the parochial school system that's like feature right like that's like one of the main reasons parents would say he would sail again we wanted them to go to school with instructor does a plan where they're not dealing with whatever great problem cases so you would sort of push aside this whole home of controversies about like are the charter school's really just working bye bye with cream skin reactions coming yet and we would just like embrace right and that's why I mean there's that that's why the quarter with school choice with that there's a really big divide between like charters only Democrats to include Doug and I need a hand Obama's former education secretary president about himself and Republicans were much more concerned about the support charter schools and most of them do better much more concerned about sort of brightening this universe to include all of these private schools that entered the day that is really a bridge too far for for virtually all Democrats Democratic education reformer is whether you believe them or not what they say they are doing is trying to help though the worst case is frightening that the most like hard luck sort of scenarios are supposed to be being boosted by this reform agenda whereas the give everybody money to go to the local Catholic school agenda has like a different target audience really it seems a really interesting thing about school vouchers is that they're like three different target audiences at least two I think I think there are three and forget that there but it's a it's an idea that you can describe in very different terms depending on who you're trying to appeal to one part of it is this social justice even for me language which is pretty much identical to why I would say about writer's quest which is if you're rich or well well off you have the opportunity to buy a house in a good school district that is exercising school choice vouchers give poor families who are stuck with whatever they can afford the opportunity to exercise some kind of money for toys over the kids' education become being that there is this sort of debate about whether they are best for African American kids in cities in particular the evidence the other half of it is a much more libertarian argument that is much less about the sort of moral imperative of letting certain families who don't have a choice have a choice and much more about this idea that vouchers will force all schools to compete I ever will be better for having two aces let's open the marketplace and is much less about improving education for a specific sector of kids and is more about just like public school shouldn't have monopoly and in the third ok there's the third assertive eight This is a much more coded appeal by evangelicals love school vouchers they mostly go to Catholic schools in terms of where the private schools are in America by the group that is really a hundred percent huge on them is the religious right and that's part of sort of with drying from the public schools than a casting of the public schools as a malign force in America that goes back to sort of the very early days the voucher movement in the nineteen Set sew so I mean from their perspective right so it's I mean the Catholic Church likes the idea of creating more funding for the progress of the Catholic rigid black but they also already have a big parochial schools is to evangelicals was sort of like to get off the ground right now is it is off the ground but it sort of this idea that you don't really see when you're talking about Catholic school but evangelicals particularly in the seventies eighties and nineties had very specific things they objected to the public schools they objected to the Supreme Court decision on school prayer they objected to school integration and that was a huge fountain factor the religious right and there was this idea that my tax dollars are supporting a system that doesn't include me they went out there with the huge boom in in sort of evangelical K twelve school creation which is kind of didn't exist before that but it doesn't have the kind of established infrastructure that paragraph local schools do and there's this idea that like morally objectionable for them not to be able to send tax dollars to schools that they support whatever jitters were time of the term proposal was this question of like disco right if you have a voucher system for kids living below poverty line that is not going to itchy of Group Three uses goal in establishing whereas if you had like four scale right if you just said OK he said of running an elaborate public schools is damn we're going to give we're going to take up how much money we spend on public education we're going to take our kids do division and have a bite attack then you would have liked middle class why evangelicals suburbanites going to maybe just like church affiliated schools yet you know don't teach evolution and that do proper Bible moral instruction but think think that's like that's a dream but requires a much bigger policy than even this pretty big trouble yeah and a much bigger policy than really exists anywhere except Nevada is sort of taking little steps toward it through education savings accounts which is sort of a different it's it's very separate from Time suppose I think it's it's fair to say like that idea that includes like middle class suburban non poor or non disabled kids there is not about a program right now that is to impress their all even the biggest statewide ones which are in Ohio and Louisiana and a couple in Wisconsin those have some kind of income threshold so I mean is isn't corner Senate though because it's like going to different political impetus is for this when one is like a very intellectual like Milton Friedman and I kind of filtering down like in principle this is a better way to organize public services so but change is hard so we want to start with the neediest cases ends and whatever we think it will be empirically validated results that show this works and that will like build support which is different from like this don't really like an evidence based argument about whether or not sending kids to schools that do proper evangelical moral education works or not I mean obviously works right would you want to go to school with they will receive a Bible based religious instruction and write and send them to school where they receive that is going to work them into a traditional public school is not going to work I get sort of an interesting thing in the looking about argument is all because there is evidence on whether or not it works in his middling but there also is like for almost everybody who has an opinion about school vouchers whether or not they work is sort of beside the point it's you know is in AZ do you think it is like morally objectionable the really big flashpoint are not like I'm like the title of it because like most liberals in the education of our business see themselves as they're in the education reform world see themselves as motivated by Lake empirical evidence actual improve may you know making me be clear I mean likely academic performance improved yes I mean again this is the point that like the evangelical objection to the public school system dating back to seventies was not about press corps so I mean I would say that they don't care if it works like what they think is not working is not like that the team's score is too loud cry it's like what you find a persuasive argument at the other is the sort of undercurrent in most most of the charter school debate the lake in charter schools aren't delivering a better education than traditional public schools we shouldn't do that there is a version of that argument about school vouchers but it's not the primary argument about pressures so that some evidence yet because when I was at a wee lad and I gotta Have It might make one of my very first assignments to a story I was right about some studies on Milwaukee voucher program this was thirteen years ago the study would be fifteen years I can guarantee you I read at the mall so it so I want this and I said Well the city show the kids who get the vouchers do about as well as the kids don't get the vouchers which is to say not that well being and Milwaukee's go the garbage but the parents say they're happy here and and said oh that seems like a reasonable tradeoff to me then I was shocked to learn in their head no no no not people just as the editor's point of this assignment was to say that we had one this big test of the Milwaukee school voucher program and we proved that it doesn't work so I mean I I changed the story editors and this study does that right this goes back to hear other things right again this was old I'm sure there are more studies and there's more evidence but these studies of Milwaukee voucher program circa two thousand and three did show if by work you mean the kids who get the vouchers did better on standardized tests and then the kids who didn't it did not work now if I work you mean to people who had the vouchers like time it seems to be working great and they said that they were sending their kids mostly Catholic schools in Milwaukee Catholic schools made them wear uniforms to kick kids out who are misbehaving and the parents who were in those schools of thought that that was good and if you think For by him in it about like like what why does communism not work likewise capitalism good thing that like free markets are amazing and is like to give people things that they want so it's like if you want orange pants even get orange pants if you want to send a kid to a school where none at the school remember yup i customers did come away happier with that because we're not actually doing better in school I honestly like that's that's sort of diet far away from sort of the big debater there but about twenty or twenty five studies like that I invited her grams in sixth in six cities in Tuesday's ready for that isn't to say that it's not all that many flea that it's not the many places as when things were sort of studying the same programs over and over and over again and like using other adults and about half of the studies are like the pro voucher Friedman Foundation cites in its light glowing evidence review of good research Ryan's Badgers work actually did not really find the Badgers worked were talking about worked in that narrow academic improvements and the rest of them found they worked a little bit they worked for one group usually daft American students but not really for anybody else they worked in the sense that graduation rates are higher which if it does not really shock me if you think about the difference between AD at Publix lot of private school but they do not work in the sense the kids enrolled in college more and it's really feed mixed which is nigh atypical for anything education it's pretty widespread and it isn't come down to like well was written to make things worse the really interesting thing as there have been more recent studies on statewide about
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Trump's Surprisingly Ambitious Education Agenda