President Trump addressed education policy in his 2019 State of the Union speech Tuesday night — in one 16-word sentence:
“To help support working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for America’s children.”
The president did not mention any other issue about education policy — including the recommendations of his federal school safety commission headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But the secretary issued a statement in support of Trump’s school choice comment. At seven sentences, it was about seven times as long as Trump’s comment:
“Too many American students are far too limited by the current education ‘system’ that assigns them to a school building based solely on where they live. That means their family income largely dictates their education options. But the freedom to choose the right education should not only be for the rich, powerful and connected. All students should have the freedom to pursue an education that develops their talents, unleashes their unique potential and prepares them for a successful life.
“The President was exactly right tonight to remind the nation of his call to expand education freedom. I look forward to continuing to work with Congress on ways to give students opportunities to pursue the education that engages their curiosity, unlocks their creativity and empowers them to reach their fullest potential. It’s time to do what’s best for kids and get to work.”
Trump and DeVos have put school choice — expanding alternatives to traditionally funded and operated school districts — at the front of their education agenda.
Trump’s mention of school choice was packed in a list of initiatives he said he plans to pursue. The sentence before it was about cancer research. The sentence after was about paid family leave:
Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My budget will ask the Congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research.
To help support working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for America’s children.
I am also proud to be the first president to include in my budget a plan for nationwide paid family leave — so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.
Trump’s fleeting mention of education policy Tuesday was about as much as he did in his 2018 State of the Union, when he said:
As tax cuts create new jobs, let us invest in workforce development and job training. Let us open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential.
Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), chairman of the House Education Committee, was not pleased with Trump’s brief mention of education. He said in a statement:
President Trump’s State of the Union — like the first two years of his presidency — largely ignored the challenges facing students, workers, and communities across the country. Access to a quality education, a good-paying job, and affordable health care are fundamental issues for all Americans. Rather than offering credible solutions, the president continued to spread misinformation about immigration and advocate for an ineffective and inefficient wall.