In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Donald Trump touched on flashpoint issues like military engagement in the Middle East, political polarization and immigration, but gave no lip service to public education.

“I’m afraid [it] reflects the general state of the field, which is that a lot of political leaders, business leaders and others have been so scared off by our civil wars within the fields of education over things like charter schools and common core of learning ... that they’ve fled the area and don’t want to comment on it for fear of losing constituents or losing customers,” Paul Reville, former secretary of education and a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, said in an interview with Boston Public Radio on Thursday.

In office, Trump has handed the execution of his education policy to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who’s promoted school choice through the expansion of charter schools and vouchers while ending Obama-era regulations that canceled loans for students defrauded by for-profit colleges. However, Reville says that while the national Republican Party dogma has been in favor of school choice, many of their constituents who live in districts where public schools are the area's largest employer feel differently.

“They’re not looking for competition to the largest employer in the community, [so school] choice isn’t necessarily a winning issue across the board with Republicans,” Reville said. “Some Republicans in urban areas are adamantly pro-choice, but not so much in the rural areas.”

However, on the Democratic side, the inter-party split on education policy has been comparable. Some Democrats, like Sen. Cory Booker, who supported President Barack Obama’s position on charter schools, which rewarded states with high-performing schools, have been caught off guard by a leftward tilt in the Democratic Party that has cast the charter school movement in a dark light. One reason is because of the large influence teachers unions have on the party, and unions traditionally say charter schools, which are not required to hire union teachers, siphon money away from public schools while leaving them with a large student-to-teacher ratio.

“I think it’s harder for Democratic leaders to step up and support charter schools in the way Barack Obama did than it was when he first stood up in that way,” Reville said.

During a teachers strike in the Los Angeles Unified School District over, among other issues, the opening of more charter schools, Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders voiced their support for the teachers unions, but a survey of the Senate Democratic Caucus done by The Intercept found only seven members provided a stance while the others refused to stake a position. This moment is emblematic of the divide going on within the party, and one reason Reville worries it will not be a prominent issue in the 2020 presidential election, just as it wasn’t in Massachusetts’ gubernatorial race this fall.

“We’re in a kind of vacuum where we’ve been largely abandoned as a sector, and that’s a perilous moment for education,” Reville said.