When it comes to education policy, Donald Trump’s positions are largely a mystery. But here is what we know so far: he hates the Common Core, and he regularly flirts with the idea of eliminating the U.S. Department of Education. There. That’s the whole of Trump’s plan to make American Education Great Again. Unfortunately for The Donald, improving America’s schools will be far more complicated than eliminating high-quality standards state-by-state and downsizing a federal bureaucracy.
Yet, what Donald Trump lacks in experience or expertise, he more than compensates, he claims, by hiring the very best people. Enter New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, one of the favorites to be Trump’s running mate, and whose education policies would be a terrible national model for a Trump Administration to pick up.
The mere thought of Governor Christie driving national education policy is enough to make almost any teacher shudder. Remember when he said that teachers’ unions deserved a “punch in the face?”
As troubling as that comment is, Governor Christie’s latest idea — so called school “Funding Fairness” — is particularly odious. At first glance, the proposal could be attractive: ensuring all students receive the same baseline level of state funding. In practice, however, this new funding model would amount to taking millions of dollars from school districts with highly concentrated student poverty, and redistributing those funds across more affluent districts. As a result, many urban, high-poverty districts could lose millions.
In other words, Governor Christie’s big idea to make public education great in New Jersey is to take millions of dollars from students in need, and give them to students who are better off. That idea is completely backward and unfair.
But should Trump and Christie make it to the White House, this profoundly inequitable approach to school funding could become national policy. Continue reading