LOS ANGELES – Former President Donald Trump has criticised the “insane” US education system and promised to bring back “common sense” schooling as part of his “America First” campaign platform.
Speaking to potential voters in Iowa, Trump touched on a hot-button issue that is expected to dominate the 2024 election.
He expressed concerns about what he sees as the encroachment of “wokeness” into teaching and called for a return to “reading, writing, arithmetic” as the focus of education.
Trump had previously previewed his education policy blueprint in January, calling for federal funding cuts to programs teaching children “critical race theory, gender ideology, or other inappropriate racial, sexual, or political content.”
On Monday night, he also promised to champion school choice, the right of parents to elect principals, and state control over curriculums.
“School choice is where it’s at,” Trump said, referring to a movement that seeks to allow parents to opt out of the public school system in favor of privately managed charter schools.
In addition, he repeated a previous pledge to “keep men out of women’s sports” – a reference to Republican efforts to ban transgender women and girls from sports teams that match their gender identity.
Iowa tends to be deluged by candidates in presidential election cycles as it hosts the first nominating contest for Republicans and remains high in the Democratic calendar after being knocked from top spot.
A recent poll showed Trump still holding significant sway in Iowa, although his favorability rating among self-identified Republicans has fallen from 91% in September 2021 to 80%.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Trump’s chief potential rival for the Republican nod, and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, the only high-profile Republican rival of Trump to have officially declared her candidacy, have also campaigned in Iowa recently.
The Democratic National Committee has previously accused Trump’s support for school choice as being an effort to gut public education while pushing to move billions of dollars towards private schools.
Democratic National Committee spokesman Rhyan Lake said in a statement, “Everyone will see right through Donald Trump’s desperate spin about his own record as the GOP field races to out-MAGA each other at the expense of America’s kids.”