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?
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