Education and the Election Through a Pennsylvania Lens

A look at the education views of the new president-elect, Pennsylvania senator and state representative.

by Alyssa Pressler, The York Dispatch, Pa. / November 10, 2016 0
President-elect Donald Trump speaks to supporters at the Election Night Party at the Hilton Midtown Hotel in New York City on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday/TNS

(TNS) — Education affects every person, whether they are on the receiving end of education, concerned for America's future with the next generation or simply paying for it through taxes.

Below is an outline of plans, policies and thoughts on education from President-elect Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Carol Hill-Evans, the York City Council president who was elected to the state House for the 95th District.

Trump: According to his website, Trump has a few key points to his vision regarding education.

Trump is a staunch supporter of school choice and hopes to add an additional federal investment of $20 billion toward this initiative. School choice essentially means that students and parents would have alternative options to public schools in their areas, such as charter schools or private schools. In a talk given at an inner-city charter school in Cleveland, Trump called the current education system a failure.

"There's no failed policy more in need of urgent change than our government-run education monopoly," Trump said.

Trump also believes that funds, through block grants, should follow the student to whichever school they choose to attend. States would be directed to use the money to help students attend their school of choice. According to his website, distribution of the funds would favor states that have private school choice, magnet schools and charter laws.

Trump's website states he is in favor of reforms to reduce the cost of college and student debt in exchange for federal tax breaks and tax dollars. According to The Associated Press, no concrete plan has been offered by Trump on how to do this, but his site states that he would work with Congress. He also has said he would work make a two- or four-year college and vocational and technical education more accessible.

According to AP, Trump has come out against Common Core and would do away with the standards if elected, even though standards are adopted by states and not federally mandated. Trump has not mentioned any policies or intentions for Common Core or early childhood education on his site.

Toomey: Toomey was re-elected as Pennsylvania's senator Tuesday for a second term. Like Trump, Toomey has supported school choice. According to his website, Toomey voted for the Every Child Succeeds Act, which authorized grants to open more charter schools and give them flexibility in use of federal funds. His goal is to have parents take more control of elementary and secondary schools.

State Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, is a local supporter of charter schools and school choice. His chief of staff, Jason High, explained that Wagner supports school choice because he believes it helps improve education for everyone.

"Scott's a believer that parents should have a choice as far as how their children are educated," High said. "Unfortunately, the public school system has been lacking, but school choice is one way to improve the system for everyone."

Toomey's website points out that he has fought to preserve federal funding for the state's schools through his efforts against an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that would have reduced federal funding for Pennsylvania.

Like Trump, Toomey also supports making college and student loans more affordable. He voted in favor of the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, which stopped student loan hikes, and he joined an effort to reauthorize the Perkins Loan Program. The site does not state if he will continue these efforts.

Toomey is in favor of increasing the quality of vocational and technical training in Pennsylvania. He has voted for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and he introduced the Career Act. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act modernized federal worker training programs, while the Career Act cuts red tape and duplication in federal worker training programs and redirects money to additional education and training, according to his website.

Finally, Toomey introduced an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act that prohibits federally funded schools from helping an employee get a new job if there is information that the employee engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor. His communications director did not respond when asked if he would continue these initiatives or if he had new goals for education.

Hill-Evans: Despite having only a few months to campaign after she was chosen to run as the Democratic choice for the state's 95th House District, Hill-Evans defeated Republican Joel Sears on Tuesday night. She was selected by the Democratic Party of York County in August to run for the position after Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, announced he would not be seeking re-election.

Hill-Evans explained in an interview that she's still learning and looking into what exactly she will be able to do and work on as the new representative for York City, but she hopes to continue to increase funding for Pennsylvania schools.

Hill-Evans explained that after previous Gov. Tom Corbett cut $1 billion from education funding, schools in the area suffered, having to eliminate programs such as art, music and physical education as well as cutting important staff positions, including school counselors and librarians.

"Basic things that you and I took advantage of when we were in school, our kids were living without," Hill-Evans said. "What I would like to do is continue to restore our funding back into education so that we can bring our schools back to the way they used to be with a full, well-rounded education."

The current York City Council president said she will continue to work with the York City School District on its recovery plan, which was set in place three years ago.

©2016 The York Dispatch (York, Pa.), distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.