Trump issues executive order targeting federal education overreach

His 100-day milestone approaching, President Trump gave Betsy DeVos a 300-day assignment Wednesday.

Trump directed his education secretary to review — and perhaps repeal — education regulations that overstep the feds’ authority.

Under Trump’s executive order, DeVos has 300 days to complete this review.

“This executive order makes certain that local leaders will be making the decisions about what happens in the classroom,” Rob Goad of the U.S. Department of Education said Wednesday. “Parents will no longer have to worry about the federal government enacting overreaching mandates or requiring states to adopt a federal curriculum at the expense of local education innovation.”

Ultimately, the order could prove to be more symbolic than substantive.

The 2015 federal Every Student Succeeds Act effectively prohibits a “federal curriculum,” by underscoring the fact that states have purview over curriculum and standards.

However, Trump and DeVos have both repeatedly criticized the Common Core academic standards and called for their repeal — even though ESSA would need to be amended to provide the White House with the authority to enact or rescind the standards. Idaho adopted its version of the Common Core standards in 2011.

The K-12 order comes amidst a flurry of activity, as Trump also issued an order questioning the president’s role in creating national monuments, and as Trump is said to be considering an order that would start the process of pulling the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Saturday will mark Trump’s 100th day in office, a traditional signpost at the beginning of a presidential term.

Reactions to the K-12 order were predictable.

“Conducting such a review is part and parcel of ensuring that education innovation and opportunity are able to take root throughout our various education sectors,” said Jeanne Allen, the CEO of the Center for Education Reform, a think tank supporting school choice.

“Rather than another executive order, perhaps the president and DeVos need to read the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “The new ESSA law fixes many of the items Trump and DeVos say they want studied.”

More coverage of the order from Education Week and the Washington Post.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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