In a speech headlined, not surprisingly, by border security issues, education made a one-sentence cameo.
“The time has come to pass school choice for America’s children,” President Trump said in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
The brief mention offered no specifics about a proposal — or what federal school choice legislation might look like.
Trump’s pitch for school choice is not unprecedented. He has advocated for choice in the past, and his previous budget proposals have sought to siphon U.S. Department of Education dollars into school choice. And Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary, is an ardent school choice advocate.
If Trump’s brief mention of choice was no surprise, the national reactions were just as predictable. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, dinged Trump for failing to mention public education. Jeanne Allen, CEO of the school choice-friendly Center for Education Reform, hailed the mention as a first step. “It’s a significant milestone when a president singles out a major education issue in the State of the Union address.”
Meanwhile, Alyson Klein of Education Week noted a key education topic that went entirely unmentioned: the fate of the 250,000 students and 9,000 teachers who are in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The program remains in legal limbo. An estimated 3,100 Idaho “Dreamers” are in the state under DACA, which protects undocumented immigrants from deportation.
After Tuesday night’s speech, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson took a holistic tack. “I look forward to working with the President and members of both parties to secure our border, enact meaningful immigration reform, and address DACA.”