Diane Ravitch, long the leading historian of American education, in the last few years has also become the leading activist on behalf of preserving and improving public K-12 education. In her widely-read blog, now in response to a few inquiries she explains why she is compelled to write about the dangers of Trump for education and for the country. She is right; all of us whose fields of interest and endeavor are adversely impacted by the Trump disaster must speak up as loudly as we can. We don’t all have her scholarly fame and millions of followers, but her example can inspire us all.
Below is the heart of the case she sets forth in “A Note to Readers about This Blog and Donald Trump,” 1/9/17.
…Trump wants to destroy public education. He has chosen a Secretary of Education who has no experience in public schools, never attended them, never sent her children to them, views them with contempt. She is an evangelical Christian and a billionaire. She wants to use the schools to spread her religion. She has spent millions of dollars on political candidates who share her views. She will inflict immense harm on public education, which is a central feature of our democratic society.
Trump himself is a product of military school and private school. His own children attended a private school (The Hill School) where the tuition is $50,000 a year. He doesn’t want that kind of elite education for other people’s children. He wants federal education funds to be used to put children into charter schools, cybercharters, and religious schools.
No high-performing nation in the world has privatized its public schools. Every child should have access to a great public school, no matter where they live or what their zip code. Every child should have access to a school with small classes and experienced teachers; to beautiful facilities and an excellent curriculum; to schools with arts classes staffed by arts teachers; to libraries with qualified librarians; to schools that value play, imagination and creating more than test scores; to schools and teachers dedicated to the development of every child.
In the Trump-DeVos era, public education won’t be wiped out completely, but it will certainly be seriously weakened. Education spending will be flat or reduced, and public schools will be forced to cut funding, lay off teachers, lose electives, and increase class sizes. Public schools will be starved because they will have no priority in the Trump years. The absurdity of this approach to federal policy should be obvious since there is no evidence to support it and clear evidence from Chile and Sweden that free-market policies fail in education. Trump and DeVos could look closer to home–Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans, D.C.–to see that school choice produces segregation and inequity, not better education….