Candidates Split on Education Spending and Authority

As the election approaches, a lot of parents are trying to determine which candidate will be the best for them and their families. Since parents tend to vote for politicians and policies that will benefit themselves as well as their children, candidates are continuously updating education and child care policies that appeal to parents.

Republican candidate Donald Trump has attempted to appeal to parents dissatisfied with the education goals, expectations, and curriculum known as Common Core. Trump has called Common Core “education though Washington D.C.” and has said he believes education should be established and administered at the local level. Additionally, Trump has noted that the Department of Education “...can be largely eliminated.” Despite this acknowledgement, Trump has yet to provide specifics on how and to what degree he would eliminate the Department of Education. Outside of a 52 second clip of Trump undermining common core, Trump does not have any position pages or white papers regarding education on his campaign website.

Instead, Trump appeals to parents with his child care policies, which include allowing parents to deduct the average cost of child care from their taxes. This would be an increase to the $6,000 dollars parents can currently deduct from their federal income taxes. Trump has promised to provide specifics to his plan soon, which will be necessary to determine the impact of this policy, but it seems Trump is adopting a child care policy that closely aligns with the House Republicans’ A Better Way plan.

On the other hand, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton continues to roll out pages and pages of education and child care policies, mostly advocating for expanding old and establishing new government programs. The quantity of policies does not necessarily determine the quality. Clinton has advocated for doubling investments in Early Head Start and Early Head Start–Child Care programs, which would cost taxpayers $635 million over five years. She has also called for expanding computer science and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics training for all students to the tune of $120 million over two years. Clinton’s largest primary education plan is her call for universal pre-kindergarten for all American children, which would allow all 4-year-olds access to early education and cost $66 billion over ten years.

In addition to Clinton’s primary education policies, she has proposed establishing tuition-free education for students from families earning up to $85,000. This income ceiling would increase by $10,000 each year over the next four years, and would be capped at $125,000 in 2021. NTUF has determined the cost of Clinton’s “tuition-free education” would be $450 billion over ten years, making this proposal one of her most expense plans. Clinton’s education plans clearly involve expanding the federal government’s role in education at all levels.

Although most media attention and polling discusses Hillary and Trump, third party candidates like Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson have established education policies as well. Johnson claims he sees no reason for the federal government to be involved in education and believes, like Trump, that education should be controlled on the state and local level. Based on Johnson’s statement, NTUF can assume he would convert existing education funds that belong to the states into block grants, winding down the role of the Department of Education over four years. This policy would reduce federal spending by nearly $9.5 billion over that time. Additionally, Johnson has said that allowing states to function as “laboratories of innovation” would increase healthy competition in the American education system and improve the quality of education overall.

In this election taxpayers are presented with at least three distinct paths forward on education and child care policy. Returning decision rights on education back to the state and local levels is a proper starting point. Taxpayers should look for policies that empower parents to raise and educate their children how they see fit and avoid additional tax burdens on families.


More detailed analysis of the presidential candidates and their policies can be found at