What Did Don, Jr. Have to Say about Public Education?
Last night's Republican convention saw speeches from a couple of Trump's children (I'm not really watching; I let other people do that and report out.) One of his children, Donald, Jr.,was attempting to introduce his dad as a fairly "aw shucks" kind of guy (which is puzzling given his father's professional persona on tv.)
But in his remarks he said this on public education:
Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class, now they’re stalled on the ground floor. They’re like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers, for the teachers and the administrators and not the students. You know why other countries do better on K through 12? They let parents choose where to send their own children to school.(APPLAUSE)
That’s called competition. It’s called the free market. And it’s what the other party fears. (APPLAUSE)
They fear it because they’re more concerned about protecting the jobs of tenured teachers than serving the students in desperate need of a good education.Mr. Trump, Jr. gets a lot wrong but then again, per his stepmother, I'm pretty sure he didn't write his speech.
We’re going to make our schools the best in the world for every single American of every single ethnicity and background.
Speaking of ground floors, I find it interesting that he says schools were the route to the middle-class as if that were the ceiling for education.
Our schools are not failing or stalled in any widespread way. We have the same issues that our schools have faced for decades like poverty and institutional racism that make public education for some children very difficult. That's what needs to be addressed in a real and systemic manner.
I had to smile at the "Soviet-era" mention. It manages to bring up the Cold War but also, in my mind, reminded me that if Trump were elected, he and Putin would be the best of friends.
But to his point, saying that schools are run for teachers and administrators does a real disservice to the millions of people in our country who devote their lives to educating children.
And his thought on why other countries "do better" in public education? They have choice. I'm not sure what countries he maybe referencing but for public education, very few countries have choice. I'll go out on a limb here but with a billion+ people, I'm pretty sure Chinese parents have very little choice. In fact, in most other countries, it's your local public school or a private school if you want a choice.
He's also wrong - at least in Washington State - there is no "tenure" for teachers. There's seniority but that's not the same thing. The teacher contracts are negotiated for how teachers face sanctions for less-than-productive work. I'd bet there are unions working for his dad that have the same kinds of workplace protections.
He also said this knee-slapper:
We’ve produced the thickest network of patronage and influence of any country at any time in world history. It’s composed of a self- satisfied people at the top, our new aristocrats. We can’t live that way any longer, it’s too risky.He doesn't say why this is "risky" which would seem to imply danger. And if he thinks he can sell that union leaders are the new aristocrats, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell him and his father.