The reaction to President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of a new education secretary in staunch school choice backer Betsy DeVos, according to many advocates, sends a clear message from the incoming president on where he will stand when it comes to the nation’s boiling school debate.
But one pivotal education issue—early childhood education—that’s earned less than its fair share of attention during the presidential election is getting a deep dive from Education Week this week.
And while Trump has indicated some support for early childhood programs through tax deductions and credits for working families, there’s still much up in the air, the paper reports.
From Education Week:
Making child care more affordable for working families was one of a handful of education policy positions that President-elect Donald Trump tackled with some specificity on the campaign trail, promising to offer “much-needed relief” through a combination of tax deductions and credits.
But the incoming administration’s views on a number of other early-childhood initiatives championed by the Obama White House—including federal support of state-run preschool programs, home visiting, and Head Start—are as yet unknown. The early-childhood-advocacy community is still grappling with what a Trump administration will mean for those policies and many others.
On the one hand, both Trump and his vice president, former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, have made high-profile pitches on early-childhood issues. As governor, for example, Pence in 2014 made a rare appearance before the state Senate to push for a preschool program, and Indiana now has a pilot program operating in five counties.
A wise path for the Trump administration would include continuing programs that already exist, said Kris Perry, the executive director of the First Five Years Fund, citing current federal efforts to support state preschool and to link private child-care providers and Head Start.
“We’ve enjoyed eight years, if not longer, of increasing national and federal attention to early-childhood education,” said Perry. “The federal role is one of partner. There is some accountability around quality, but [federal officials are] not in the driver’s seat.”
Katharine B. Stevens, a resident scholar on early-childhood policy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, believes that Trump will be focused on programs that are popular, and that early-childhood policies could be a vehicle.