K-12 Education Reform

A better education for America’s children.

America First Policies recognizes the need for an immediate reform of the K-12 education system. Millions of kids are being left behind from an outdated one-size-fits-all system that fails to unlock the unique gifts and talents of every child. Expanding school choice empowers students, allows for equal opportunity regardless of zip code or income, and puts parents in control of their child’s education. Ensuring students are safe at school and receive a quality education is of utmost importance.

The Facts:

  • The Department of Education proposed a $63.2 billion budget in FY 2019.
  • Average spending per student in American public schools was $11,762 in the 2015-2016 school year compared to $9,266 in the 2004-2005 school year, but an increase in spending over the years has not led to increased student success.
  • A 2015 assessment by the Department of Education determined only 37 percent of 12th grade students were “proficient” in reading and only 6 percent were considered “advanced.”
  • In the same assessment, only 3 percent of 12th grade students were considered advanced in mathematics. Just 25 percent were considered proficient.
  • Approximately 4 out 5 students graduated from high school on time in the 2015-2016 school year. 
  • In 1991, Minnesota passed the first state law that allowed the establishment of public charter schools. As of 2015, 43 states and the District of Columbia had passed similar legislation.
  • The 2016-2017 school year saw more than 6,900 charter schools with a student body of 3.1 million. Charter school enrollment has tripled in the past 10 years.
  • From 2015 to 2017, charter schools were estimated to have enrolled over 200,000 students.
  • From fall 2000 to fall 2015, the percentage of students who attended public charter schools grew from 1 to 6 percent.


U.S. Department of Education, National Center For Education Statistics, “The Condition of Education 2018,” May 2018, https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2018/2018144.pdf

Secretary Betsy DeVos, U.S. Department of Education, “Remarks by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to the House Education and Workforce Committee,” May 22, 2018, https://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/prepared-remarks-us-secretary-education-betsy-devos-house-education-and-workforce-committee

U.S. Department of Education, “Secretary DeVos Forms School Safety Commission,” March 23, 2018, https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretary-devos-forms-school-safety-commission

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, “Fast Facts: Charter Schools,” https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=30

Oren Cass, “How the Other Half Learns: Reorienting an Educational System That Fails Most Students,” Manhattan Institute, August 28, 2018, https://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/how-other-half-learns-reorienting-education-system-fails-most-students-11419.html

Secretary Betsy DeVos, U.S. Department of Education, “Remarks at Kennedy School of Government,” September 29, 2017, https://www.c-span.org/video/?434821-1/education-secretary-betsy-devos-speaks-harvard

Lindsey Burke, Neal McCluskey, Williamson Evers, Theodor Rebarber, and William Estrada, “Common Core and the Centralization of American Education,” March 24, 2016, Heritage Foundation, https://www.heritage.org/education/report/common-core-and-the-centralization-american-education

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, “Estimated Charter Public School Enrollment, 2016-17,” February 1, 2017, https://www.publiccharters.org/publications/estimated-charter-public-school-enrollment-2016-17

Jonathan Butcher, Heritage Foundation, “A Primer On Education Savings Accounts: Giving Every Child the Chance to Succeed,” September 15, 2017, https://www.heritage.org/education/report/primer-education-savings-accounts-giving-every-child-the-chance-succeed

Read More:

Frederick Hess, “The Real Promise of School Choice,” U.S. News & World Report, February 12, 2018, https://www.usnews.com/opinion/knowledge-bank/articles/2018-02-12/dont-let-betsy-devos-wars-eclipse-the-promise-of-school-choice

Oren Cass, “How Our Education System Fails Most Students,” Institute for Family Studies, August 30, 2018, https://ifstudies.org/blog/how-our-education-system-fails-most-students

Lindsey M. Burke, “A Strong Start on Advancing Reform,” EducationNext, Summer 2018, https://www.educationnext.org/strong-start-on-advancing-reform-trump-and-nations-schools-forum-burke/

Virginia Walden Ford, “School Choice is the Right Choice,” The Washington Times, March 6, 2017, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/6/school-choice-is-the-right-choice/

Jonathan Butcher, “National Academic Standards Have Produced a Lot of Nothing,” RealClearEducation, April 17, 2018, https://www.realcleareducation.com/articles/2018/04/17/national_academic_standards_have_produced_a_lot_of_nothing_110271.html

Jane Robbins, “Trump’s Education Department sets up to defend student privacy,” The Hill, June 13, 2018, http://thehill.com/opinion/education/391987-trumps-education-department-steps-up-to-defend-student-privacy

Alex Entz, “Choice for Me, But Not for Thee,” City Journal, March 28, 2018, https://www.city-journal.org/html/choice-me-not-thee-15793.html

Alexandra DeSanctis, “The Cynical Dishonesty of Anti-Choice ‘Education Reformers,’” National Review, June 6, 2017, https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/06/donald-trump-budget-education-reform-anti-school-choice-arguments-hurt-students/


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