Higher Ed

Educators ponder meaning of a Trump presidency: Plea for “the vulnerable and the bullied”

Many of those who are reacting to his presidency say more is unknown about what’s next than is known

Republican president-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States.

NEW YORK – President-elect Donald Trump said very little about education during the bruising and divisive campaign, leaving those who devote their life to it baffled and unsure about what he’ll actually do and what his policy choices will be.

The Republican has pushed for school choice using federal block grants and for giving private lenders control of the student loan system, as well as calculating students’ loans based on the kind of jobs they’ll likely be able to get.

Related: Trump plan bases student loans on employability

The topic was not, however, a cornerstone of his campaign, or even an issue he spoke much about, beyond pushing competition, charters and vouchers. As a result, many of those who are reacting to his presidency say more is unknown about what’s next than is known.

Related: Educational choice is a slogan slick enough for Donald Trump

The Hechinger Report is compiling a wide range of reactions, views and advice concerning Trump; we’ll update throughout the day.

Here are a few:

Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, via Facebook

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), addresses delegates on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center on July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsyvania.

“We were all in and we lost. Trump tapped into big time the winds of change and won. Ironically, he won on pledging the same economic change- to rebuild a middle class that we as trade unionists have championed. But he was trusted to do that while Hillary was not. Many of us need to mourn, are sad, devastated etc. We will work to protect our values of fairness and decency and respect and opportunity. But for this morning, let’s just live with our feelings and know we fought and worked hard to elect someone we believe in. We must hold President-elect Trump accountable for the promises he made to make the country great … and we must also make sure that the vulnerable and the bullied and the forgotten are not forgotten; that our rights don’t disappear; that our democracy is not eclipsed; that our movements – labor and public education – are not devastated.”

Fran Hendricks, president of Mansfield University of Pennsylvania

“America’s greatness has always been her far sighted investment in her future. It is our hope that President-elect Trump recognizes the urgent need to build the intellectual infrastructure by investing in public higher education.”
Rick Hess, director of education policy studies, American Enterprise Institute, via Education Next

Frederick Hess

“The door has been opened for enthusiastic Trump appointees to get creative about pressing states to adopt school voucher programs, abstinence-only sex education, biologically-aligned locker rooms, curbs on PC-speech-restrictive policies on college campuses, and whatever else they can dream up. I think that would be an unfortunate use of federal power, but it’s hard to see how those who fear what Trump appointees might do can suddenly discover the virtues of federalism or executive restraint. What’s the bottom line for K-12, pre-K, or higher education? I don’t know. And I’d be skeptical of anyone who claims that they do.’’

Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, via Education Next:

Michael Petrilli

“So what does this political earthquake mean for education policy? The honest answer is that none of us know for sure. Trump didn’t say much on the campaign trail about schools, beyond attacking Common Core and lauding parental choice. There are also few clues about whom he would appoint as Secretary of Education, or to sub-cabinet positions. Still, a few developments are likely. First, a Trump Administration will almost surely rip up some of the regulations the Obama team has drafted to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). They will most certainly go back to the drawing board on “supplement-not-supplant,” and embrace the approach supported by Lamar Alexander and the state superintendents. And they will likely tweak the accountability regulations to better align with the flexibility provided by the law—to allow states not to publish summative ratings of schools, for instance.”

 Yasmina Vinci, executive director of the National Head Start Association:

“Those of us who have dedicated our lives to providing the Head Start Advantage to our nation’s most vulnerable children and families are confident President-elect Trump will continue to support significant and meaningful investments in Head Start. Given Head Start’s solid and proven return on investment, our new President certainly understands the importance of deepening our national commitment to starting America early and building a solid base for national security through comprehensive, high-quality early childhood education and development for our nation’s most at-risk children and families.”

Jeanne Allen, Center for Education Reform:

Portrait of Jeanne Allen, President of the Center for Education Reform.

“President-elect Trump – We believe there is much you can do to address the hopes and dreams of all who elected you. We hope you will embrace innovation, applaud and incentivize ambitious state efforts to create opportunity for all learners at all levels, reject the status quo and think hard about all those you appoint to support you and the needs of citizens everywhere.”

Cristina Jimenez, Executive Director and co-founder of United We Dream, issued the following statement:

“Immigrants are declaring a state of urgency and resilience. Over the coming weeks, our families and community members will need to tap into the incredible strength that brought us to this country and which we use to survive.”

“Tonight, we are marching to the White House to demand that President Obama issue an immediate freeze on all deportations. The days of placating the racist agents of ICE and CBP must end tonight.”

“This is a time to mobilize in every city state across our country. We calling on all people to take action to demand that their mayors and governors declare their cities and states as spaces of safety.”

“To Donald Trump and the Republican Party we say that we are #HereToStay and we are never backing down. All people with love in our hearts are angered and disappointed tonight and pledge to resist mass deportation. ICE and CBP have proven themselves to be agents of racism and agents of hate. We will resist them and we will fight endlessly to protect DACA and the victories we’ve won. This is our home and we are #HereToStay!”

Judith Shapiro, president, The Teagle Foundation, and former president, Barnard College:

“Whatever other dimensions there may be to this election result, it is clearly a victory of entertainment over education.”

Jonathan Lash, President, Hampshire College

Jonathan Lash, President, Hampshire College

“I have heard from a number of students, faculty, and staff who, like me, are struggling to understand the meaning and implications of last night’s election results. I feel both anguish and sadness.

I am particularly concerned about members of our community who felt themselves specifically targeted during a hateful campaign by repeated racist, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, and misogynistic statements.

We saw a candidate mock people with disabilities and deal in anti-Semitic innuendo, heedless of the pain and harm he caused.

Some suggested we cancel classes, but we believe it is a time to gather, reflect, and analyze.”

Pam Grossman, dean, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

“School privatization and charter advocates have a natural ally in Trump. We can safely assume a Trump administration will encourage more charter growth and more voucher systems, given the nature of his transition team. However, it’s important to remember that ESSA ceded significant control of education from the federal government back to the states.  Much of what will happen in K-12 education reform over the next four years will take place at the state level. Because education has not been a top priority for Trump, it will be important to see who he puts in positions of power to influence or control education policy, and whether they will partner with states to accomplish their objectives through incentives or simply cede control to states.”

Lewis Thayne, president of Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania:

“In his victory speech, President-elect Trump committed to being the ‘president for all Americans.’ This sentiment begins to heal the divisions in our society. Today and in the next few days, it is most important that we offer support to any members of the community—especially our students—who experience a sense of rejection or fear or uncertainty as a result of the election. In a learning community, uncertainty and fear are invitations to understanding and empathy. So much of what we practice every day, inside and outside the classroom, involves open dialogue, unquestioned support for each other, and consideration for every person. Colleges and universities have the experience, the resources, and the mission to model a forward-looking response to the election.”

These reactions were compiled by The Hechinger Report, an independent news organization focused on innovation and inequality

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