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Op-Ed: Trump Won’t Abolish Gun-Free Zones in Schools (And Other Things He Won’t Do)

Op-Ed: Trump Won’t Abolish Gun-Free Zones in Schools on His First Day (And a Bunch of Other Things He Won’t Do)

Many of us living and working in the education community were shocked to hear our worst fear materialized: Donald Trump, a comical figure at first and a serious threat later on, was elected our 45th President.

Admittedly, I preemptively let myself get my hopes up about opponent Hillary Clinton’s plan to fix the school-to-prison pipeline, her acknowledgement of the importance of computer science in her technology and innovation plan and her overall genuine commitment to providing quality education to every child no matter his or her zip code. I had let my excitement get the best of me and even wrote-up a 2,000-word ode to the education legacy she would work to create. When a Trump presidency was announced, I had to scramble for something to say about him and education that was more than a heaving sigh of dismay.

And here we are. Now, as many of my similarly heartbroken Americans must do I, too, must accept the results and search for the optimism in what seems like an incredibly bleak outcome.

The positivity, I have found, does not come from speculating about what Trump will do for education during a very fragile time (the Every Student Succeeds Act goes into effect next year, after Obama and the administration we’ve relied on thus far are long gone), but rather what he won’t do.

For one, he won’t eradicate gun-free zones in schools on his first day in office. One of the things he said that stuck with me while he was campaigning was that he said he would abolish gun-free zones in schools (yes, schools specifically). I frantically searched for the speech and realized that not long after he said it, he retracted it.

In early January, Trump said at a rally:

"I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools, and—you have to—and on military bases...My first day, it gets signed, okay? My first day. There's no more gun-free zones.”

In late May, Trump backed away from his sweeping claim to say gun-free zones would only be eliminated in “some cases.” Whew.

Moving onto his claims that he would drastically cut into the Department of Education if not get rid of it all together, I find solace in the fact that he’s not the first president to make such a claim.

Five presidents ago, one of Ronald Reagan’s major goals was abolishing the Department of Education shortly after his predecessor created it.

Citing little congressional support, Reagan backed down and the Department lived on. I find comfort in knowing that if a past president has specifically set out to tear down the Department and failed, a president who has only fleetingly mentioned it will likely not have much luck, either.

There are several other things I hope Trump does not have success in doing, including legislating against liberal arts, waging a misunderstood war against the Common Core and half-heartedly embracing school choice. I’m nervous, but for now, I am remaining positive in the fact that he does not seem to be a man of his word.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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