On education, Donald Trump proposes $20 billion for "school choice"

Donald Trump would allocate $20 billion in federal funds to “school choice,” the Republican presidential nominee proposed Thursday, speaking at an event in Ohio to unveil his education policy proposals.

The plan would use “existing federal dollars to establish a block grant” for the 11 million or so school-aged children living in poverty, Trump said. He would allow individual states to decide how to use the funds -- a “reprioritization” that would allocate the money to be put towards school choice and allow it to “follow the student through the public or private school they attend.”

Trump cuts Clinton's lead in key battleground states

“The parents will be so happy,” Trump told a crowd at a Cleveland charter school. “Number one, we’ll have safe streets. And number two, they’ll walk their child to a school that they wanna be at. How about that? How is that?”

Trump addressed supporters from a podium set up in the cafeteria of the Cleveland Arts and Social Sciences Academy, a charter school that’s received failing marks from the Ohio Department of Education for its students’ lackluster performances on standardized math and reading tests.

The GOP nominee said the grant would favor states that promote private school choice and charter laws, and a “a state like Ohio will benefit greatly from these new funds.”

“We want every disadvantaged child to be able to choose the local public, private or charter school, a magnet school any of these schools that is best for them and for their family for mom and dad,” Trump said. He did not, however, give specifics about where the $20 billion in the federal budget will be reallocated from.

Trump proposed one other policy in Ohio: merit pay for teachers, which he said will ensure that “we reward great teachers -- instead of the failed tenure system that rewards bad teachers.”  

Despite the campaign billing the event as one focused largely on education, Trump spent nearly half his speech bashing his rival, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and defending himself over criticisms that he was against the Iraq war from the start, despite 2002 statements to the contrary.

“I was opposed to the war from the beginning,” Trump said. “Long after my interview with Howard Stern. But three months before the Iraq war started I said in an interview with Neil Cavuto that perhaps we shouldn’t be doing it yet and that the economy, these are quotes, that the economy -- this was on live television -- the economy is a much bigger problem as far the president is concerned.”

Trump continued to repeat that he had always been against the Iraq war, contradicting his comments to Howard Stern in a 2002 radio interview, where he said he supported the invasion into Iraq