Federal

Project 2025: What It Is and What It Means for K-12 If Trump Wins

Democrats are using the Heritage Foundation plan to show what could happen in a Trump presidency while the former president distances himself from it
By Libby Stanford — July 08, 2024 4 min read
Kevin Roberts, president of The Heritage Foundation, speaks before Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at the National Religious Broadcasters convention at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center on Feb. 22, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn.
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Project 2025, a 900-page conservative policy agenda that proposes eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, has become a dominating force in the 2024 election campaign as President Joe Biden and Democrats use it to make their case against former President Donald Trump.

Biden’s team has referred to Project 2025 as a “manifesto infused with MAGA ideology” that “should scare every single American” and has mentioned it in dozens of recent news releases. Its creators frame it as an effort to bring “self-government to the American people,” according to the Washington Post. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign recently has tried to distance itself from the initiative.

For K-12 schools, the agenda proposes a complete restructure of governance at the federal level and the eventual elimination of a key federal funding source: Title I, which provides grants to schools with large populations of low-income students.

The central premise of the plan’s education agenda is to scale back the federal government’s role in education policy “to that of a statistics-gathering agency that disseminates information to the states.”

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy think tank, created the agenda as part of its Project 2025: Presidential Transition Project initiative.

The project has brought together former Trump administration officials and other allies of the former president, along with conservative advocacy organizations, to develop a playbook to start implementing on day one of a conservative presidential administration. It provides a detailed plan for virtually every corner of the federal government, and the initiative includes a database of potential staffers for a conservative administration.

Of the policy agenda’s 900 pages, 44 are dedicated to the U.S. Department of Education.

The agenda seeks to advance private school choice and parents’ rights policies that have already become popular in many Republican-led states. But it would also change the entire fabric of federal education policymaking and how federal education laws are enforced by eliminating the Education Department and devolving the federal education functions that remain to other agencies.

Aside from eliminating the Education Department, here are some of the project’s other proposals:

  • Passing a federal parents’ bill of rights similar to those passed in a number of Republican-led states, which the Project 2025 agenda says would give parents stronger standing in court “when the federal government enforces any policy against parents in a way that undermines their right and responsibility to raise, educate, and care for their children";
  • Transitioning Title I to a “no-strings-attached” block grant administered by state education departments—which could allow the funds to flow directly to parents in the form of education savings accounts to be used for private school and other educational expenses—before phasing it out over the next decade;
  • Distributing special education funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to school districts as “no-strings-attached” block grants or directly into education savings accounts for parents to use on private school and other educational expenses;
  • Scaling back the federal government’s ability to enforce civil rights laws like Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination, and Title VI, which prohibits race-based discrimination by moving enforcement of those laws to the Justice Department and requiring that the federal government litigate potential violations in court, rather than through the more common route of negotiating settlements with school districts to change their practices;
  • Scrapping the Biden administration’s Title IX revision, which would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Allowing states to opt out of federal education programs and devoting their share of federal education funds “toward any lawful education purpose under state law.” The agenda asserts that federal education programs’ “regulatory burden far exceeds the federal government’s less than 10 percent financing share of K–12 education.”

See Also

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 9, 2024, in Rome Ga.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 9, 2024, in Rome, Ga. Allies of the former president have assembled a detailed policy agenda for every corner of the federal government with the idea that it would be ready for a conservative president to use at the start of a new term next year.
Mike Stewart/AP

Some of the proposals, including eliminating the Education Department, enacting a federal parents’ bill of rights, and creating a universal federal school choice program, would require the approval of Congress, likely an uphill battle if Democrats control either the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives. But much of the agenda could be implemented through executive action.

Trump, who is the presumed nominee for the Republican party, has said that Project 2025 does not reflect his policy agenda and has tried to distance himself from the proposal in recent weeks. In a post on his Truth Social platform on July 5, Trump said he has “no idea who is behind it.”

“I disagree with some of the things they’re saying and some of the things they’re saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal,” Trump wrote.

However, when it comes to education, Trump’s actual policy proposals reflect much of what is written in Project 2025. On his website, Trump has promoted a potential federal parents’ bill of rights, criticized the Biden administration for its Title IX revision, and proposed universal school choice programs.

He doesn’t go so far as to suggest eliminating the Education Department, but he says he will “find and remove the radicals who have infiltrated” the agency.

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