President Trump is receiving high marks for his speech this week to a joint-session of Congress. Gone were the platitudes and the sound bites that have come to characterize presidential candidate Trump. In their place, the president not only provided depth and substance, but also offered much-needed Reaganesque optimism and a Kempian “happy warrior” spirit that may help him unite a deeply divided nation.
And while much attention is being devoted to the president’s remarks on healthcare, taxes and immigration, Trump discussed other subjects that are immediately worth pursuing and should not get lost in the moment.
Expand Educational Freedom to Low-Income Minority Students
President Trump could not have said it better: “Education is the civil rights issue of our time.”
And when you consider the gross racial disparities in our educational system that include a large number of African-American and Latino students failing to receive a quality education, it is clear that the president is correct in his assessment.
Despite spending billions upon billions of dollars and increasing federal control over education, academic achievement among minority students remains largely stagnant. Thankfully a number of states are expanding educational freedom allowing more and more mostly low-income minority families to exercise choice in deciding where to send their child to school.
Despite spending billions upon billions of dollars and increasing federal control over education, academic achievement among minority students remains largely stagnant
That choice should not be limited to private school choice. In his remarks the president expanded the menu of options to include the “public, private, charter, magnet, religious, or home school that is right for them.”
Increasing educational freedom has broad appeal, supported by a number of Democratic-leaning public opinion polls that show strong support for school choice among African Americans and Latinos — the groups that would benefit most.
Ending the Cycle of Poverty
To make his point about ending the cycle of poverty, President Trump talked about the story of Denisha Meriweather. As these pages have been reporting, Denisha was able to receive a high quality education, thanks to an education scholarship program. The first in her family to graduate college, Denisha had already attended five different schools by the time she was in sixth grade, but received a lifeline to escape an almost certain path to poverty.
Still, there is more than expanding educational freedom to break the cycle of poverty. For that, policymakers must look outside Washington, D.C. for answers. Countless organizations are working locally to meet the needs of individuals, families and children living in poverty. Too often, lawmakers look to enact a one-size-fits-all approach that often fails to consider the nuance that is required to permanently lift people out of poverty.
And to reduce poverty, policymakers should reward work and craft policy that does not make living on government assistance a way of life. If President Trump wants to be a transformative president, he should work with proven poverty fighters in Congress, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who have been pushing for precisely these types of policies for years.
And to reduce poverty, policymakers should reward work and craft policy that does not make living on government assistance a way of life.
Make Childcare Affordable and Accessible
As poverty and welfare expert Kiki Bradely recently told Opportunity Lives, “We cannot require single mothers to work and then not have anybody to take care of their children.” In his speech to Congress, President Trump underscored understand the importance of this issue. The president was right to include this in his remarks because for far too many families, childcare is an urgent need.
Consensus has eluded both political parties so far, but with the president’s leadership it is entirely possible for lawmakers to come together to create a plan that works. There is bold thinking taking place on this issue. Angela Rachidi, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has gone so far as to say that a short-term entitlement program may prove more fiscally responsible than creating a child care tax credit.
“We cannot require single mothers to work and then not have anybody to take care of their children.”
More of this creativity and political intrepidness is needed from policymakers and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. President Trump did much to jumpstart these conversations.
Israel Ortega is a Senior Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter: @IzzyOrtega.