Presidential race

Who needs education when facts are optional?


At first glance, you would think there is little connection between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and a proposed Texas textbook, Mexican American Heritage, which misrepresents and demeans the important contributions of the Hispanic culture to the state and the country that we know today.

But in an era in which a growing number of people are motivated more by fear and ideology than they are by truth, the separate furors created by Trump and the textbook share some common ground.

First, there are the wall that Trump vows to build along the Mexican border and his proposed roundup of undocumented immigrants. They would be expensive, divisive attempts to deny the inevitable fact that within the next generation or so Hispanics will constitute a majority of the Texas population and, sooner or later, control the centers of Texas political power. The proposed textbook, meanwhile, tries to rewrite the history of the Hispanic culture already represented by more than half of Texas’ 5.2 million public school students.

Trump’s campaign has been built on bluster, misrepresentations of the truth, outright lies, bigotry and an appeal to fear.

Trump is outrageous, not ideological. But Cynthia Dunbar, the publisher of the offensive textbook, is very ideological. In an interview with the Texas Tribune before the State Board of Education hearing on the book, she said she had “no hidden agenda” in publishing the text and offering it for use in high school Mexican American studies classes.

The book, however, is riddled with inaccuracies and racial stereotypes, according to many scholars who have reviewed it. And as a member of the State Board of Education several years ago, Dunbar certainly had an agenda to impose her own right-wing ideology on Texas’ public schools, including an effort to remove the separation of church and state principle under which the United States was founded from the Texas curriculum. She also has called public education a “tool of perversion.”

Trump and Dunbar, in their own separate ways, are part of what Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. calls a “post-factual nation,” an America, under attack from cable TV, social media and other ideological platforms, “where untruth is gospel, reality is multiple choice and ‘facts’ are whatever you have testes enough to say and somebody is dumb enough to believe.”

The school children of Texas deserve better, and so do their parents.



Teacher’s “crazy” choice for president


People don’t always vote for their own professional or economic best interests in elections, and they are entitled to do that. That includes educators who often don’t vote for what is best for their profession or their students. If they always voted for what’s best for education, Texas would have a different governor, a different lieutenant governor and a legislative majority that does not shortchange and over-test school kids.

Even so, I am amazed by the San Antonio teacher who, in a recent AP news article, called Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump a “crazy person” but still planned to vote a straight Republican ticket anyway.

“I’m maybe going to have to accept some of his….,” the teacher said, before trailing off and shrugging.

Accept what? Trump’s bigotry, xenophobia, fear-mongering, juvenile temperament, complete unpreparedness and incompetence for the most crucial job in the free world?

If this person likes Republican candidates for other offices, he could vote for them individually without voting for Trump for president. He could even vote a straight Republican ticket and “de-select” his vote for Trump.

Trump has bragged about loving “under-educated” people. He also loves educated people who know better than to vote for a “crazy person” for president of the United States but plan to do so anyway.



Poisoning classrooms, Trump-style


Donald Trump may never be elected president, I hope, but he already has poisoned not only the political debate in the United States but also the atmosphere in some classrooms. He is one of the last individuals any young person should select as a role model, but some students apparently have.

The summer issue of NEA TODAY has an article about a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project confirming that “the hostile tone and bullying behavior like that seen at Trump campaign events is having a profound negative effect on individual students and entire school communities.”

“Nationwide, educators have reported alarming cases of student bullies spouting anti-immigrant, anti-minority rhetoric they have heard during the course of the 2016 presidential campaign – primarily from Trump and his supporters,” Amanda Litvinov wrote.

Here is a sample:

# High school students in Iowa yelled “Trump, Trump, Trump!” during a ballgame against a rival school whose student body was heavily Hispanic.

# Last spring, two third-graders in Virginia taunted classmates by saying, “When Trump’s president, you’ll be deported.”

# One teacher reported hearing a fifth-grader tell a Muslim schoolmate that “he was supporting Donald Trump because he was going to kill all of the Muslims if he became president.”

# Nearly 70 percent of educators responding to an online survey said students – including many Muslims, immigrants and children of immigrants – had expressed concerns about what might happen to their families after the election.

# More than half of the teachers in the survey said they had observed an increase in hateful language, especially anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant remarks.

# There have been reports of students not wanting to attend school because they believed their classmates hate them.

# Forty-three percent of teachers surveyed said they were hesitant to teach about the current presidential election for fear they might stir students up.

“Last election was amazing in my class!” a teacher from San Antonio was quoted. “We even learned about electoral votes using other first-grade classrooms. Not this year! Not touching it!”

Trump is nauseating. Yet, people who should know better, including some of Texas’ top elected officials continue to support him. What kind of role models are they?


Trump’s low standard of education


If there is anything that Donald Trump says that you can believe it is his statement, initially made several months ago, that “I love the poorly educated.” That’s because then – and now – a major source of his support comes from people without college educations, as well as, of course, Hillary-haters of all educational levels and pedigrees.

With supporters like those, it is small wonder that Trump apparently thinks he can utter just about any whopper and get away with it, such as his claim, made again this week, that Hillary Clinton wants to “abolish” the Second Amendment, the right to own and bear arms.

In the interest of education, I would point out the president of the United States cannot repeal the Second Amendment or any other amendment to the Constitution. Neither can a judge appointed by the president.

There are two ways to formally propose amendments to the Constitution. Congress can propose an amendment, which must be approved on a two-thirds vote of both the House and the Senate, or Congress can call a national constitutional convention if two-thirds of the states request one. And that’s just the first step.

Amendments approved either by Congress or by a constitutional convention must then be approved by a majority vote in the legislatures of three-fourths of the states or by special conventions in three-fourths of the states.

Now, this civics lesson won’t change the thinking of must Trump supporters. But if you bothered to read all this, you will know much more about the constitutional revision process than Trump does. That’s a pretty low standard though, isn’t it?