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Is This the Dumbing Down of America?

Betsy DeVos
Is President Donald J. Trump the first president to fulfill all of his campaign promises to his supporters in the first one hundred days of his administration?

His blatant disregard for the views of those Americans who did not vote for him is unprecedented. It is hard to recall a president in modern times who has not made this important gesture of outreach.
What gives? Is he still campaigning… possibly for the next election?
Some background:
I can wager a guess that the very idea of a public school education within the New York City Public School system never even crossed the minds of little Donald Trump’s parents living in Jamaica Estates, Queens.
Although not quite on the the level of the old guard and well-established grammar schools on the other side of the East River in Manhattan, little Donald did attend perhaps the most “well-to-do” school in Queens, just a short city bus ride along Union Turnpike. Unless, of course, he was dropped off every morning in Dad’s car.
Before actually graduating from that prep school, Donald was shipped off to a well known, rather tony military academy in Up-State New York to finish off his high school years, because his folks thought it might be time for some more structure and discipline. This is the closest “cold warrior” Trump ever came to serving in the military during the Vietnam era.
Now, in light of grownup President Trump’s choice of Besty DeVos for Secretary of Education and her recent Senate testimony, does this mean that all American children will now receive, have access to, or will they only be entitled to an excellent private school education? And will this be at the government’s expense?  Or will they only be entitled to receive a failing and underfunded public school education which could be the result of her plans as secretary?
The GOP loves the entitled to concept, especially when they speak of their so-far-phantom replacement of “Obamacare.”
After all, being entitled to an excellent education is very different from having access to it and even more removed from actually receiving it. And this is exactly where  pocketbook matters come into play.
Is the president willing to put his political capital behind a meaningful budget line item to make the promise of a great education a reality?
Many educators believe that Betsy DeVos’ personal and professional experiences makes her the wrong choice to administer the $70 billion annual budget of the U.S. Dept of Education.
One needs to understand how a government agency operates before beginning to re-organize the entire institution.
Although the Democrats are committed to using the Senate confirmation hearings to expose the weaknesses of Trump’s choices, Ms. DeVos herself inspired two loyal Republicans to break ranks with the president.
Ms. DeVos made this easy with her lack of knowledge of major education issues… i.e., she was completely uninformed when it came to the federal mandate for states to provide individualized education to all children identified as having learning disabilities.
Each year it becomes more and more clear that America is no longer “at the top of the world” in education.  We are now ranked fourth overall after Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom – and all these countries rely heavily on their own government funding.
Aside from cheating our future generations out of an opportunity to become bright, accomplished, and well-rounded citizens, this has a negative effect on America’s ability to compete in the global marketplace for the best jobs.
It seems we have two options – make our public schools outstanding or make sure everyone can attend an outstanding private school. Both of these options will cost a lot of money.
In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic – let’s not even mention science, art, music or geography – remember geography? – our public schools used to be required to teach our children how our government operates as well as offering a shared sense of history and who we all are as Americans.
If public schools are abandoned, what will private schools teach young Americans about their important role as citizens? How will we educate our new citizens about their role in our democratic process?
Will the total demise of a public education eliminate our shared values and what it means to be an American?
Will certain private schools, with their own private agenda, become propaganda factories for any of the many extreme sects that are ready and more-than-willing to help dumb down America right under our noses?
We already self-select our news by choosing only those outlets we agree and feel comfortable with, creating an environment where we Americans are on the verge of living in totally separate realities, with separate facts and, yes, alternative facts.
Since we currently have public schools, private schools, and charter schools – and national standards – plenty of American children still share some common knowledge and experience.
Without a common experience in school to shape our view of the American experience, its history, and our form of government, we run the risk of becoming a nation deeply divided forever – a people without a common history and purpose.
It is not hard to imagine the important role that school is supposed to play in teaching our children to become critical thinkers and informed citizens.
Although our founders were from a different time – and clearly social norms have changed – they recognized that for democracy to survive, an educated and well-informed electorate is essential.
A former president, who also attended the best private schools, including Harvard Law School, delivered an important message years ago that resonates today for those of us who are still listening:
“For in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, holds office; everyone of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss and we get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve. John F. Kennedy
Jon-Christopher Bua is a White House Correspondent and Political Analyst appearing on-camera and radio via Talk Media News.  Twitter: @JCBua

1 Comment

  • The way Mr. Bua writes you’d think he was a big time writer for our leftist media. His fake news scare tactics are like a slap with a two by four.

    Of course he doesn’t think that Obama had a blatent disregard for the views of Americans. He doesn’t remember that Republicans were completely shut out in the writing of Obamacare. He doesn’t remember the lies he told to get it passed. He doesn’t remember his signature accomplishment was passed without even one Republican vote. He says with a straight face Trump is the only one guilty of disregard?

    Public schools? Of course The Donald was sent to private schools. Bua conveniently forgets that Obama sent his kids to private school too. No surprise there.

    Our professional ‘educators’ have been running our public schools for 75 or more years, and they still can’t get even fifty percent of our 8th graders to read and do math at grade level! That level of failure gets them the right to continue to ‘educate’ our kids??
    Hey Mr B – they have ALREADY been dumbed down. Deliberately! That dumbing down is not an accident.

    Even I went to private school – Our church had a small parish school and anybody who wanted to come, could. No financial limitations. No entrance exam. No pre-school. No kindergarden. The grammar school had 4 classrooms and four nuns. Each nun taught 2 grades, about 25 students in each grade, all of the subjects for both grades, in the same room. The high school had 3 classrooms, 3 nuns, a small chemistry lab, a library, and a small auditorium with a stage. Not one student in the 12 years I was there, not one, nobody, left that school without being proficient at grade level in reading and math, as well as other basics like world history (beginning with the Egyptians), national history (the patriotic truth of it, we started every morning with the pledge of allegiance to the flag that was in every classroom), social studies (citizenship, government), general science, geography, chemistry, biology, religion, latin, french. It’s not rocket science, it’s not complicated. Yet our high ranking, top of the heap, government paid professional educators have been failing, and dumbing down the curriculum, for 75 years. They richly deserve a failing grade. They get an F.

    Private schools, charter schools, home schooling, have all been doing a superior job for years. Betsy DeVos has experience in these successful areas and will help kids in failing schools to access this success. How can anybody believe that the professional educators will suddenly start to do a good job after 75 years of not a clue. It’s time to free our kids from the public schools that are failing. The good ones will do just fine, the bums will disappear as parents choose the best for their kids. The good teachers will always have work, the bums will not.

    The biggest losers are and will be the teachers unions, who suck up the earnings of the good teachers and do too much to protect the bums.

    ‘Public schools are abandoned’ ‘total demise of public education’ ‘propaganda factories’ – all a large load of donkey excrement. The truth is that, precisely as a result of public education failure, we are to an alarming degree, already ‘a people without a common history and purpose’, a people whose majority has failed to ‘become critical thinkers and informed citizens’.

    The pathetic ignorance displayed on the TV interviews “Watters World” would be funny if not so sad and dangerous for our country. These people have the right to vote, and entirely too many representatives in Congress do an accurate job of representing THEM – and Mr. Bua..

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About the author

Jon-Christopher Bua

Jon-Christopher Bua is a White House Correspondent and Political Analyst appearing on-camera and radio via Talk Media News. 

He offers his U.S. and Global political analysis on BBC TV, BBC World Service, Euronews, WTOP, C-SPAN, Al Jazeera English, 'NewsOne Now' with Roland Martin, LBC 97.3 Radio London, Channel 5 UK, ABC Australia, STV Scotland Tonight and via HuffPostUK Blogs.

A former Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service; is now teaching the course "Politics & The Media: An American-Global Perspective; at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

During the Bill Clinton Administration, Jon-Christopher was Communications Director at two Federal Agencies - The Small Business Administration and The Office of Personnel Management and Managing Director for Intergovernmental and Public Affairs at The Overseas Private Investment Corporation. He also ran several Communications and Outreach operations at the Democratic National Committee and in both Clinton-Gore '92 & '96 Campaigns.

Jon-Christopher is a Speaker and Media Trainer and moderates, organizes and participates in political roundtables and symposia worldwide.

Jon-Christopher Bua on Twitter: @JCBua