Donald Trump Got It Right on School Choice. How About Hillary?

Even a broken clock is right twice per day.

If you listened to Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, you might find that this saying is apropos. You probably heard a lot of things you didn’t like.  But, how about his stance on the right of parents to choose a high quality school environment for their children?

Now, you may have heard “The Donald” talk about building a wall along the Mexican border. You may have heard him talk about deporting millions of hardworking people living in America. You may have heard Donald Trump talk about his plan to “suspend immigration” from all nations that have been “compromised by radical Islamic terrorism”. You may have even heard some of what he said-without-saying about returning to hyper-militaristic policing strategies in America’s most under-resourced cities.

But, I would encourage every parent and every advocate for access to high quality education for all not to miss what Trump said on education. “We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice”. It struck a chord with me.

I don’t know that Donald Trump really knows what parents and families go through growing up in environments like the one where I grew up on the Westside of Chicago. I can’t say that I’m convinced that he really cares. What I can say is that somebody told him what a real solution could look like; help parents gain access to better schools for their children.

Do we know what Trump is going to make happen? Of course not. But, we know that he at least embraces the goal. And I know that it resonates with many parents in Chicago who want better for their children immediately.

I know that Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party has already received the endorsements of the two major American teachers unions. I know that those unions will lean on Clinton to oppose school choice or at least not facilitate it. But, parents across the country are joining the movement for school choice in increasing numbers. And for many of us, it is certainly a top issue when we look at our choices in November.

In what could be a very close election, it should be important not to leave a single stone unturned. Every vote counts. And when searching for votes, I think it would behoove ALL candidates to get it right on this most important issue. Trump did. Let’s see if Hillary Clinton does the right thing next week at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

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Chris Butler is first a husband and a dad. He has been involved across the spectrum of public engagement activities and has worked with a number of diverse constituencies in urban and suburban communities. He has also been involved in several political campaigns including his service as a youth and young adult coordinator for Barack Obama’s primary bid for U.S. Senate. Chris worked as deputy campaign manager and field director for A+ Illinois where he developed a strong, statewide field operation including over 500 organizations and 50,000 individuals around the state working to bring adequacy and equity to Illinois’ school funding system and as the director of advocacy and outreach at New Schools for Chicago, a leader in school reform in Chicago. Chris is a 2006 graduate of the Ministry Training Institute and holds a degree in civic and political engagement from Northeastern Illinois University.