Trump pledges to earmark $20B for school choice
 
 
Trump’s first budget would use $20 billion to create a block grant for every impoverished school-aged child in the country, according to a fact sheet released by his campaign.
 
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That way, federal dollars could follow students to whatever school parents enroll them in — public, charter or private.
 
In order to reach that goal, Trump said, he'd need a major investment from the states. 
 
"If the states collectively contribute another $110 billion of their own education budgets toward school choice on top of the $20 billion in federal dollars, that could provide $12,000 in school choice funds to every single K-12 student who today is living in poverty," Trump said at a campaign event in Cleveland on Thursday.
 
That number, an average of $2 billion from each state, could be tough for some states to meet. Bigger states have large education budgets, such as Texas’s $41 billion. But smaller states’ education budgets are as low as $6.3 billion, in the case of Alabama.
 
Framing school choice as a "civil right," Trump said that the government needs to put students first instead of the "education bureaucracy." 
 
“There’s no failed policy more in need of urgent change than our government-run education monopoly," he said, arguing that school choice would create a competitive education market that benefits students. 
 
"The Democratic Party has trapped millions of African-American and Hispanic youth in failing government schools that deny them the opportunity to join the ladder of American success."
 
Trump’s campaign said that massive investment would be paid for by reprioritizing "existing federal dollars,” but didn’t elaborate as to where that money would specifically come from. 
 
He also chided teachers unions, another typical whipping post for Republicans, as a "tremendous barrier" to progress. He celebrated how the plan would cede power away from the union and called on teachers to be paid on merit instead of a tenure system. 
 
Once elected, he pledged to campaign across the country in order to tout school choice as a "national goal" and said he'd promote local candidates who back his policies.
 
School choice is a major issue for conservatives who want to reduce the federal government’s role in education, arguing that state and local authorities are better equipped to decide how to spend education dollars to meet local needs. 
 
Trump has floated the possibility of cutting the Department of Education if elected, telling Fox News in August that "the Department of Education is massive, and it can largely be eliminated."  
 
Liberals have balked at school choice programs, arguing that the policies bleed money from public schools that need resources to improve and pointing to under-regulated private schools that have broken laws. 
 
Updated at 3:18 p.m.