It is difficult to ascertain which of President Trump’s cabinet appointment elicited the most resistance (because practically all were strongly opposed by Democrats); but the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education was, certainly, one of the most contentious. Because two female Republican senators joined the Democrats in opposing her nomination, Vice President Mike Pence had to cast the decisive vote in her confirmation in a 50/50 split senate.
The aggressive opposition to DeVos was led by one of the strongest constituents of the Democratic Party in recent election cycles, the National Teachers Union. This union’s power in opposing school choice and Charter schools was well demonstrated when President Obama, after being elected in 2008, in one of his first executive actions, ordered the dismantling of a highly successful inner city Charter school program in Washington, DC, which almost exclusively benefitted African American children, and was very popular in the Black community of the U.S. capital, which constitutionally is under federal government administration.
The country’s first African American president, as one of his first administrative actions, thus, as public demonstrations by the parents of affected children amply demonstrated, terminated a well-liked and successful school program, greatly benefitting Black children in a city with an, otherwise, dismal public school program, forcing children who had been lucky enough to have been admitted to the program, to return to failing public schools.
Not very widely reported by the media (and with no follow in New York Times or Washington Post about what happened to the children who were affected by closure of this program in DC), this occurrence not only demonstrates the fakeness of the alleged support of the Democratic Party for betterment of the Black underclass in inner cities but also emphasized the power of the National Teachers Union within the Democratic Party, when even the first Black president of the country (who obviously knows better) follows the union’s drumbeat. Under the pretense of defending public schooling, the union has in all 50 states been the dominant force in opposing school choice and Charter schools and, because of a wealth of financial contributions to Democratic candidates and the Party, itself, the National Teachers Union nowadays, possibly, represents the single most powerful interest group within the Democratic establishment.
As, likely, the most recognized proponent of school choice and Charter schooling in the nation, it, therefore, was not surprising that the Teachers Union, and with it the whole Democratic establishment, went all out in opposition to Betsy DeVos. But when the media, like the union, present their opposition as exclusively a pro-public schooling stance, they are not only mistaken but, likely, on purpose misleading. The here involved issues are much more complex and much more important than that for the future of the nations. Indeed, they go even beyond the increasingly obvious recognition that the plight of inner cities in this country will not be improved without a radical reorganization of inner city school systems that offers parents choices about the schools their children can attend.
The importance of Betsy DeVos’ appointment lies in the recognition of the importance of the federal Department of Education in forming the future of the nation. Economically speaking, elimination of the federal Education Department and assigning its responsibilities to the states, as had been Republican policy in the past, would not improve the deteriorating competitiveness of U.S. graduates in comparison to many other countries. Politically speaking, eliminating the Department would also not reverse the leftish-liberal indoctrination of the country’s children at all school levels and, indeed, beyond that into college.
If the country is to succeed economically and socially, reeducating our education system from preschool through college must be an essential step not only in fighting hopelessness and resurrecting our inner cities but also in improving our economy and, likely most importantly, in combating the political strategy of divisiveness between races and economic classes of citizens that are currently propagated throughout our education system.
The current one-sided leftish-liberal indoctrination in our schools and colleges goes almost unopposed because it reflects the education the current generation of teachers, themselves, received, characterized by almost complete disappearance of objective education in world history, which, after all, should represent the most basic building block in any education.
One often hears that those unaware of history are destined to repeat the mistakes of history (originally attributed to George Santayana, Madrid, Spain, December 16, 1863, but later widely attributed to Winston Churchill). Those uneducated in history, however, also are more easily influenced by political demagoguery because they, simply, would not know any better. Knowledge and experience matter. It was also Winston Churchill who said that, any young person who is not on the political left has no heart; but every older person who still is on the political left, has no brain.
How should a college student who is taught the idealistic principles of radical Socialism and/or Communism reach an appropriate judgment, without concomitantly being taught the historical truth that every radical Socialist/Communist political experiment in the world has bitterly failed and, many indeed, like fascist movements on the extreme right, ended in violent dictatorships.
Who can blame our youth about reaching the wrong political conclusions, if we do not offer them a balanced education?
It may, indeed, be time to consider a new constitutional amendment that mandates separation of state and education, so that children at all ages are taught objective world history before they are exposed to social philosophies. And objective education must start at young ages. The Jesuits’ boast, “give me a child until age seven and I will give you the man” (attributed to the co-founder of the Jesuits, Francis Xavier) is historical evidence in support.
Indeed, how important the teaching of objective history is can also be seen worldwide. Had Germany not committed to objective education after World War II, the country’s democracy would never have developed. The opposite is also true: Israel is, correctly, making the point that, as long as Palestinian textbooks for even young children demonize Israel, and Jews in general, there will be no peace between Israelis and the Palestinians. And as long as the male children of Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to receive most of their education only in religious madrassas (and the female children are kept out of schools), nothing will change in the many-hundred-years-old tradition of constant warfare that the Taliban is built upon.
If Donald Trump, indeed, wants “to make this country great again,” then he and his administration must understand the importance of a radical education reform from kindergarten to college. Similarly, if the administration wants even the slightest chance of affecting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or of influencing the fates of Afghanistan and Pakistan, then careful attention will have to be paid to the education systems in those countries. The sooner we start, the better!