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Trump and school choice

Donald Trump continues to assemble his administration’s Cabinet. His selections will help paint a picture of his priorities and agenda. And when it comes to education, Mr. Trump appears to be headed in a healthy direction.

Mr. Trump’s election should represent positive news for advocates of more choice in education. In addition, Mr. Trump said during the campaign that he hoped to scale back the Education Department and push responsibilities for curriculum planning, development and education aid back to the state and local governments. Good.

And while we don’t know yet who the nation’s next education secretary will be, the president-elect’s latest rumored list of candidates certainly appears to be in line with those goals.

Eva Moskowitz, the CEO and founder of New York City’s largest network of charter schools, was on the list, but announced late last week that she is not interested in the position. Ms. Moskowitz, a Democrat and staunch defender of charter schools, is a thorn in the side of the teacher unions which work to promote the education establishment at the expense of student achievement. That she made the short list is an excellent sign.

The Daily Caller reports that Mr. Trump is also considering Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College, the small liberal arts school in Michigan perhaps best known for its refusal to accept any federal funds.

Others reportedly under consideration include Indiana’s former school chief Tony Bennett; U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind.; and Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of Washington, D.C., public schools and the founder of Students First.

All are proponents of school choice and education reform.

In addition to those names, The New York Times lists Williamson M. Evers, education expert at the Hoover Institution, as a top contender. Mr. Evers is fiercely opposed to federal overreach when it comes to education and would be a solid match for Mr. Trump’s vision.

As The Associated Press surmised last week, school voucher programs in the nation’s capital and in Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s home state of Indiana could inspire the Trump administration to expand choice plans across the country, opening up additional opportunities for low-income families and their children.

In the interim, the Trump administration could ask Congress to restore funding to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, the nation’s first federally funded, private school voucher program. The House voted to extend funding earlier this year, but a companion bill is currently stalled in the Senate.

Advancing educational choice is essential to improving the nation’s public schools. Mr. Trump’s election, along with GOP control of Congress, offers optimism that more progress can be made on this front.

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