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Fact-Checking Donald Trump’s Recent Education Claims

Fact-Checking Donald Trump’s Recent Education Claims has analyzed some recent claims about education in the U.S. ahead of his Indiana primary win. Its analysis has revealed that Trump grossly exaggerated claims that the U.S. performs dead last in education on a global scale despite spending the most money per student.

Trump’s exaggeration is unfortunate because public education does not get much time on the campaign stage, so perpetuating false claims when actually discussing it is discouraging.

This is exactly what Trump said on May 2nd:

"Now, if you look at education. Thirty countries. We’re last. We’re like 30th. We’re last. So we’re last in education. If you look at cost per pupil we’re first. So we — and by the way, there is no second because we spent so much more per pupil that they don’t even talk about No. 2. It’s ridiculous.”

It’s no secret to the American people that the U.S. wants to increase national test scores to better compete globally. But while in some assessments the U.S. trails behind or falls below average, it never once has fallen dead last.

And while the U.S. does spend more than the average per-pupil, it isn’t first and Trump’s claims that there is no close second are baseless.

"The latest OECD report shows the U.S. spent $11,732 per full-time student in 2012 – behind Switzerland ($15,512), Norway ($13,611) and Austria ($12,164),” found.

"OECD also measures education spending as a percentage of GDP. By that measure (table b2.1) the U.S. spent 3.6 percent of its GDP on primary and secondary education. That was 18th highest, tied with Chile and Canada, among 33 OECD member countries. New Zealand spent the most at 5 percent of GDP and Hungary the least at 2.6 percent.”

It's not the first time Trump has been misinformed about education. In his previous attempts to rally support by denouncing the Common Core, Trump incorrectly claimed that it is a federal initiative, prompting many to wonder if he actually knows what it is. 

It’s also not the first time and won’t be the last that Trump exaggerates data to convince voters to vote for him to make America great again. Will his exaggerations and alarmist attitude finally get people talking about making improvements in education? Or will the continued perpetuation of misinformation keep action from happening?

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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