Less than a week after #Election2016, half the country sifts through the psychological wreckage resulting from the unexpected victory of political neophyte Donald Trump over career politician Hillary Clinton.
Although the decision to vote for Hillary caused many sleepless nights and her stance(s) on education was sound as whispers in the wind, I was prepared to continue my work fighting for school choice for families in the margins. Hoping that once in office the lifelong champion of families would return to her public service roots fighting for vulnerable children. There would be no shortage of blogging content and valuable information to disseminate to Nashville families.
Boy, What a Dream!
Then I awoke the morning of November 9, 2016 to The News. The businessman and reality TV star won the Electoral College while Hillary won the popular vote. Breathe.
P-R-E-S-I-D-E-N-T – E-L-E-C-T DONALD J. TRUMP.
There, I wrote it.
Personal feelings aside, there are serious matters that urgently need to be addressed. The issues of which I’m speaking are — well, all of them, but most specifically, education. It’s a safe assumption to think
the Trump Mr. Trump will support school choice because, after all, that’s what Republicans are known to do. So I take a trip to his website for confirmation:
DONALD J. TRUMP’S VISION
- Immediately add an additional federal investment of $20 billion towards school choice. This will be done by reprioritizing existing federal dollars.
- Give states the option to allow these funds to follow the student to the public or private school they attend. Distribution of this grant will favor states that have private school choice, magnet schools and charter laws, encouraging them to participate.
- Establish the national goal of providing school choice to every one of the 11 million school aged children living in poverty.
- If the states collectively contribute another $110 billion of their own education budgets toward school choice, on top of the $20 billion in federal dollars, that could provide $12,000 in school choice funds to every K-12 student who today lives in poverty.
- Work with Congress on reforms to ensure universities are making a good faith effort to reduce the cost of college and student debt in exchange for the federal tax breaks and tax dollars.
- Ensure that the opportunity to attend a two or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or a skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access, pay for, and finish.
Lipstick on a Pig
The manner in which I process information pares down the most accessorized verbiage to two or three words – and this case I was given very little to process. However, the words that stretched out and smacked me down were located in the first two bullet points “$20 billion” and “grants”, respectively. The remaining bullet points are like decorative pillows on an old couch serving no substantive purpose.
First, where to search and successfully find $20 billion? Let’s be clear, I’m in love with the edict “immediately add an additional federal investment of…” It’s a beautiful thing and some fairy tales do come true, but I’m guessing we needn’t hold our breath.
Second, the use of grants as code word for vouchers is dishonest. We will monitor the populations and institutions earmarked to receive these “grants”.
But At Least One of Us Believes
According to Rudy Giuliani in Monday’s New York Post, “President-elect Trump is going to be the best thing that ever happened for school choice and the charter school movement.” More superlatives and grandiose thought bubbles! But the vice chair of Trump’s transition team boasts the support for more charter schools, not better.
Because children in poverty lack time and money, we certainly want every child to have access to a school of their choice; a school that fits – a school exceeding expectations and leaving standards in the dust.
At the heart of my fight lies the right of families to choose the educational institution that provides the best opportunity for success for that child. I’m not looking for designer knock-off charters to temporarily appease families by offering lies while stealing dollars from other schools. “Bigly” thinking without proper filters is a recipe for disaster. Failure is not a option.
Big, Lazy Promises
Because Trump’s education campaign platform is lazy, it’s up to us to work harder and yell louder. We must ensure our children aren’t political pawns exploited every four years to cement partisan power.
Trump must understand that our fight includes ALL children – Muslim, Mexican, with disabilities, GIRLS, the Blacks, Whites – ALL means ALL. That we are not builders of walls, but futures. Finally, we can’t be satiated with promises of big and more, we revel in results— kids winning every day.