President Trump certainly won’t be remembered as someone who “Made America Great Again” by churning the past failed public school policies of both parties.
What can we expect from President Donald Trump when it comes to our public schools? Is it all doom and gloom? Can we find any silver lining? Is there a smidgeon of hope?
Not if you read his education agenda thus far. Not if you consider his two pro-reform advisors Gerard Robinson and Williamson M. Evers who are all about vouchers and charter schools.
It’s business as usual as Mercedes Schneider points out in her blog. School choice in the form of vouchers and charter schools is troublesome.
There is nothing to look forward to but more decline and privatization that will destroy our democratic educational system.
We have had 30 years of such failed school reform. Isn’t it time to move on?
Mr. Trump’s harsh and embarrassing words about ethnic groups and women, his mocking of a man with disabilities, during the campaign, are most troubling and the hardest to get around.
It will plague him and this nation for a long time to come.
But he too is a parent who seems to care deeply about his children and family.
One has to hope that he could evolve as President to see the importance of all people to America. And that he would be pressed to do this by observing the plight of our poorest children.
Public schools can address such diversity. They can bring families together. They have always been on the forefront of social change.
President-elect Trump should not decrease support when it comes to civil rights issues in our schools. He should reach out and work to bring people together.
He should address the problematic schooling that fails to save our poorest children from the school-to-prison pipeline.
What I wish is that President-elect Trump would reconsider the bad school reform policies of the past. That he look beyond those who promote vouchers, which have failed, and restore public education as a source of pride for the nation.
It is through education that he could reach out for an education secretary that could bridge the terrible gap he faces between the two parties–a worthy olive branch.
He could surprise us by appointing Diane Ravitch or Stephen Krashen to be Secretary of Education. Both have the experience and the know-how to lead America and our schools in a new—better direction.
Ravitch has worked for Presidents of both parties and has a keen sense of what is wrong with past school reform policies.
Krashen has acknowledged he’d like the job and is a language specialist who also understands the problems with current school reform.
President-elect Trump could create a new system and address the poverty and diversity difficulties—struggles—in order to turn the tides and create a decent legacy for himself as President.
He should also address the diminishing services for children with disabilities.
Let us also not forget, that while many of us voted for Hillary Clinton, there were concerns about some of her education policies and corporate connections. Most of us also dislike Race to the Top and the education policies of President Obama.
President Trump should make America great again when it comes to education by doing something different but good for both parties when it comes to public schools.
He won’t do it with the tired path he is on now.
President Trump could turn troubling education reform upside down by returning to the old Republican notion that he alluded to in the beginning of his candidacy—local control!
Community schools are in vogue! Many parents and teachers from both parties are on board for creating local schools that have rich curriculum, are inclusive, and identify with the surrounding community.
Common Core State Standards failed partly because they did not belong to teachers or parents. They were foisted on schools by outsiders. States made that decision without community feedback.
President-elect Trump need only look to Georgia which unanimously defeated a referendum for state control.
And Massachusetts voted to not lift the cap on charter schools in that state.
The popularity of charter schools and vouchers is waning due to little proof of success and a squandering of tax dollars on unscrupulous owners.
Real Republicans hate wasting money? No?
Good community schools, it must be noted, are democratic and owned by the community. They reflect the needs and the culture of that unique geographic area. They serve Republicans and Democrats alike.
They are not managed by outside charter school operators who know little about children.
Community schools could include business partnerships that support real teachers—not school takeovers! Many business owners want to help teachers—not run them out of town!
Professional Teaching Workforce
Public schools should be run by real teachers and principals. They should be connected closely to parents and those from the community.
Teachers right now are bullied by various corporations and politicians from both sides of the aisle.
Teachers today are so browbeaten they are leaving the classroom, creating a dangerous teacher shortage. This truly threatens the country.
Would an investor finance a new business by hamstringing the developer from innovation? True inventions start with knowledgeable, qualified individuals being given the freedom to be creative.
Certainly, any savvy businessperson can see that the old school reform practices will eventually lead to the decline of the country and its assets.
Cheap, second rate teaching programs, many online, do nothing to create teacher professionals. They hurt children and their progress, and they create a threat to future innovation.
Mr. Trump has a real degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He must value professionalism. He could restore respect to university education schools.
But he must reconsider his adoration of controversial for-profit colleges. Many are online.
There is grave concern about these schools. The President’s focus should be on student debt and problems facing the real university system. We deserve an educated populace.
President Trump and Corporations
While corporations have been behind past school reforms, many corporate CEOs did not like Mr. Trump or his candidacy.
So, it would seem that a President Trump would be more beholden to Americans and those who put him in office.
Members of both parties disliked the corporate-based Common Core State Standards. Mr. Trump had his criticism right concerning these standards.
Cyberbullying and Children
Cyberbullying is a real problem for young people today, and it is a worthy issue for a First Lady Melania Trump to address.
Also, Melania Trump is a stay-at-home mom, and while their New York home may look a lot different than your home or my home, caring about a child in their formative years is something which most of us can identify.
Ivanka Trump, in her speech at the Republican convention, seemed to see childcare from a different angle. I liked that she addressed the workplace environment affecting working mothers and their children.
U.S. Department of Education
If President Trump wants to be remembered as the “Education President,” and have a good legacy when it comes to America’s public schools, he should end his talk of getting rid of the U.S. Department of Education.
While one could argue that this department has not worked well in the past, a United States Department of Education, run decently, should not dictate, but guide and support state and local school decisions.
The USDOE ought to be a clearinghouse for good practices—a beacon of hope for education in the rest of the world.
Isn’t it time America gets behind its schools? Shouldn’t we look to countries that succeed with their students, like Finland, and treat children, all children, with kindness and dignity?
It is within Mr. Trump’s reach.
He has to know he is now in the Apprentice’s seat and the rest of the country and the world will be judging.
He could finally give ALL Americans back their public schools, and he could return the joy to each and every child that can be found in learning.
Neighborhood schools with highly trained, well-compensated, passionate teachers, that should be the cornerstone of our democracy. Without such education, we return ourselves to a time of obscurantism. But of course neighborhood schools need the administrators off their case. We have turned assessment into a ruse for money making–and not just the schools for their parafernalia of fluff-staff, the real estate market, the overdose of after-school activity providers…. And managed to do so without much “sitting with” the students (which is what assess means). Make districts SMALL, train the trainers, empower the community with the choice of THEIR own school (also eco-friendly), and watch our young become discerning sensible adults! THAT will make America great again!
Nancy Bailey says
Great suggestions, Romina! Thank you.
How about we start teaching kids tolerance. Tolerance for people with special needs. We’ve wasted years on teaching students how to accept men who like other men, women who like other women, women who want to dress or be men, men who want to dress like or be women, blacks, natives, etc…but we have completely FAILED to teach US students how to protect and advocate for the most vulnerable among us: People with developmental disabilities. This is the forgotten minority and it’s disgusting, dangerous and naive. Look how about of disabled has skyrocketed in USA over the past decade. What does this say about our public school system? People with developmental disabilities can’t always speak up. They can’t protest. They don’t march in the street. They depend on OTHERS to speak and fight for them! Our US schools have miserable FAILED to train students to protect and advocate for the most vulnerable citizens in our country. Time for a change.