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What Could a New Administration Mean for Education in California and the SFUSD?

posted Nov 16, 2016, 5:59 PM by Robin Dutton-Cookston   [ updated Feb 1, 2017, 4:20 PM by Miranda Martin ]
In the past week, we have received questions from parents concerned about changes that have been proposed by President-elect Trump. Here is some information we have found addressing questions we have heard. We will continue to reach out to district and state-level policy leaders and share updates as we obtain them.

What would the proposal to withhold all federal funds to sanctuary cities mean for San Francisco? Could this include Title 1 funds, lunch funding,  etc?

What we know:
Both San Francisco mayor Ed Lee and SFUSD Interim Superintendent Meyong Leigh have pledged to continue to fully support San Francisco’s sanctuary city policies. This means that city law enforcement agencies do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

President-elect Trump has pledged to defund sanctuary cities in his first 100 days in office. No details have been discussed about how this would happen. A staffer at Senator Barbara Boxer’s office responded to our question about the possible mechanics of withholding Federal funds to sanctuary cities and noted that while the President has control over allotment of funds in some cases - examples given were some environmental protection funds and some federal grants - congress must pass legislation when it comes to the bulk of appropriations decisions. 

Bills have been proposed in the past to withhold some funds to sanctuary cities but have never made it out both houses of congress. These bills did not propose withholding all federal funds from sanctuary cities but rather specific federal funds like Economic Development Administration Grants and the Department of Housing & Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grants. According to Senator Boxer’s office, it is unlikely that political will would exist in both houses of congress to massively defund sanctuary cities as these funds help cities in red states as well as blue states. Nevertheless, San Francisco and SFUSD appear to be researching worst-case scenarios to prepare for unknown future budget impacts.

Here are some resources we found helpful on the issue of defunding sanctuary cities:
  • San Francisco Examiner: “Mayor Lee: SF will remain sanctuary city despite Trump presidency”
  • Washington Post: “Democratic-leaning cities brace for fight with Trump over sanctuary policies”
  • Politico (on recent prior attempts to defund sanctuary cities): “Senate rejects 'sanctuary cities' defunding bill


Will the new administration end the Common Core? Would the state automatically have to as well, or is this not binding? And if it ends, what is it replaced with?

What we know:
Donald Trump has pledged to “end Common Core.” It seems unlikely that he will be able to fulfill this pledge. According to a recent piece by Emily DeRuy in The Atlantic magazine, it is not actually possible for the president to repeal common core because “Common Core is not a federal policy but a set of standards states have adopted for what students at each grade level should be able to do, and the federal government doesn’t dictate those. More than 40 states have adopted the standards, and the idea that they will suddenly abandon them is not realistic.” 

It is unlikely that California would rethink its commitment to the Common Core State Standards under the next presidential administration. Curriculum is quite clearly within the purview of state law and the newly enacted, bipartisan, federal education act - the Every Student Succeeds Act - actually gives the states more control over local decisions than the prior No Child Left Behind act. Even under the old law, it was up to the states to decide on curriculum and some states never did adopt Common Core State Standards although there were incentives under that act ($$) for states to adopt the standards. California's decision to adopt Common Core was not based on Federal incentives and Common Core has been relatively popular here.

More articles:
  • NPR: “Can a President Trump get rid of Common Core?”
  • EdSource: “In short term, Trump presidency unlikely to disrupt California's education reforms”
  • Atlantic: “Donald Trump and the future of education”
We continue to reach out to local, state, and federal policy-makers and we will share information as we learn more. Please continue to send your questions to info@ppssf.org.