The Republican Party has released its 2016 platform on education, and while much remains unchanged from the 2012 platform, there are a few notable shifts from four years ago on the Common Core State Standards and other issues.
Here are some highlights from the new platform:
• There’s a sharp rebuke of the recent guidance on transgender students’ access to restrooms from the U.S. Department of Education. The platform states that Title IX’s protection against discrimination on the basis of sex has been twisted by the Obama administration in an attempt “to reshape our schools—and our entire society—to fit the mold of an ideology alien to America’s history and traditions.” It adds that the administration’s “edict to the States concerning restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues.”
Transgender rights in education weren’t mentioned in the GOP’s 2012 education platform, although it wasn’t the hot-button issue in schools it is now.
• The platform criticizes the amount of federal spending on K-12 since 1965—that’s the year the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed. “Clearly, if money were the solution, our schools would be problem-free. More money alone does not necessarily equal better performance,” the draft states. Those two sentences are copied verbatim from the 2012 platform.
• The first page of the draft states that “we encourage the parents and educators who are implementing alternatives to Common Core, and congratulate the States who have successfully repealed it.” This isn’t all that surprising, since some Republican activists, as well as GOP members of Congress and presumptive party nominee Donald Trump, have been agitating against the standards, in some cases for years.
However, that’s a change from 2012, when the common core wasn’t explicitly mentioned. Instead, four years ago, the platform affirmed “higher expectations for all students.”
• The Bible gets mentioned in the 2016 education platform, but not the 2012 education platform.
“A good understanding of the Bible being indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry, we encourage state legislatures to offer the Bible in a literature curriculum as an elective in America’s high schools,” the 2016 platform states.
• Local control over schools is praised, while “teaching to the test” and excessive testing is rejected. The Democratic platform includes somewhat similar language.
• Big data is not cool, according to the platform. The “vast” collection of student data and information without parental consent or notice is “wholly incompatible with the American Experiment and our inalienable rights,” the platform says. (This language isn’t in the 2012 platform.)
• A variety of school choice programs, from education savings accounts to tax-credit scholarships, as well as the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program (which distributes vouchers), get recognition. “We support options for learning, including home schooling, career and technical education, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools,” the platform states.
Read the whole Republican Party platform here:
Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.