Presidential race

Who would like a classroom full of Donald Trumps?


Donald Trump knows only slightly more about education than my pet puppy does, and he is less well-behaved. Trump demonstrates just about every bad character trait that educators warn their students against. He’s a bully, a bigot and a liar, and now he has suggested to any number of mentally unstable fools out there that it would be OK to physically assault his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The political climate in Texas is such, however, that Trump is still likely to carry the Lone Star State even while, we better hope, he loses big time in most of the country.

This is mainly because of Texas’ partisan tradition and the animosity that many Texans, including educators, have toward Clinton, even though she has a strong public record of advocating for educators, school children and their families.

Another factor is Trump’s continued support by state leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Land Commissioner George P. Bush, all of whom represent a disaster for public education but who also were elected with the votes of many educators.

Abbott, Patrick and Bush all should withdraw their support of Trump, but they won’t, because they fear being seen as disloyal to the ideological zealots who have taken over their party.

They all should be ashamed of themselves, especially Bush, whose father, former presidential candidate Jeb Bush, was mercilessly ridiculed and bullied by Trump during the GOP primaries.

Abbott, Patrick and Bush aren’t on the ballot this year, but remember their cowardice when they come up for re-election in 2018. Also, remember that Abbott and Patrick are two of the main reasons that Texas public schools remain woefully under-funded while students are still being over-tested.



Education is a life-changer – for most people


Formal education is a life-changer, and over the years it obviously has improved countless millions of lives. But education has its limits. It can’t always erase prejudicial thinking, as we are constantly reminded.

Two of the most recent reminders are Steve King, a U.S. congressman from Iowa who believes only white people have made significant contributions to the development of civilization, and Cynthia Dunbar, a former member of the State Board of Education who has helped publish a proposed textbook that denies and misrepresents the contributions of Hispanics to Texas and American culture. In truth, people of all colors and ethnicities have made important contributions to what Texas, America and the world are today.

King and Dunbar are educated people, although Dunbar, as an SBOE member several years ago, denounced the public education system as a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.” It is a public education system that, in Texas, has a majority enrollment of Hispanic students.

King and Dunbar can’t see past their near-sighted, white views of history, culture and politics in a rapidly changing world that people like them just can’t bring themselves to accept. And many of their kindred spirits were in the convention hall in Cleveland this week, cheering what they would like to believe is Donald Trump’s promise to “make America white again.”

Some people could draw that interpretation from Trump’s pledges to build a wall on the Mexican border, round up undocumented immigrants and ban Muslims from entering the country. Moreover, the convention’s delegates were overwhelmingly Anglo. According to a preliminary figure reported by the Washington Post, only 18 of the 2,472 delegates who gathered in Cleveland were African American.

It’s a dangerous world, at home and abroad, but prejudice and fear aren’t solutions.

The Dallas Morning News column linked below discusses King’s comments, Dunbar’s textbook and the ongoing battle to educate young people against intellectual blindness and intolerance. It’s a tough fight that’s getting tougher.



Hillary Clinton vows to rein in testing


If Hillary Clinton is elected president, she will part company with her two predecessors – George W. Bush and Barack Obama – and reduce the role of standardized testing in public schools.

In an address to the National Education Association’s annual convention today, Clinton said testing should be restored to its “original purpose” and that is as a diagnostic tool to help teachers and parents see how their kids are doing and where they need addtitional work for improvement.

“When you’re forced to teach to a test, our children miss out on some of the most valuable lessons and experiences they can gain in the classroom,” she said.

Over-testing, she added, hurts low-income children the most because the poorest schools are forced to cut back on art, music and other electives essential to a full educational experience, opportunities to which students in wealthier neighborhoods have more ready access.

“This is a form of inequality, and we are not going to stand for it,” Clinton said.

Clinton also called for universal pre-K, higher pay for educators and giving educators a break on student loans. She vowed to work to improve public schools, not privatize them, and to actually listen to educators.

In other words, her view of education is the opposite of what has been practiced by the political majority in Austin for the past several years.



Time for educators to begin uniting against Trump


As I wrote in a recent blog post, elections have consequences for educators, their students and their families, even though educators don’t always vote in the best interests of their professions. If they did, Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick wouldn’t be governor and lieutenant governor of Texas. Well, the same observation – call it a warning, if you prefer — can be made about the current presidential race.

Although Hillary Clinton has finally clinched the Democratic nomination for president, the reality is still hard to accept for many dedicated Bernie Sanders supporters, including Marion Fox, a public school teacher from Maryland who told The Washington Post she was not giving up on Bernie and was inclined to write him in on her November ballot rather than vote for either Clinton or Republican Donald Trump.

“There is still a big margin that will write him in, and that is what we are hoping on. Bernie is the person that we want for president,” she said.

I don’t doubt that Marion Fox expresses the sentiments of perhaps millions of Bernie Sanders supporters, including many Texas educators who also may consider writing in Sanders as a protest vote against both Clinton and Trump in the general election. It would be a strong political statement – and a dangerous gesture.

The reality is this. The next president of the United States will be one of two people.

It will be Donald Trump, an ill-prepared, race-baiting bully who already has declared war on the majority of Texas public school students – Hispanics – and who hasn’t the faintest clue about the realities of public service, much less the responsibilities of holding the highest office in the free world, which he demonstrated again after the tragedy in Orlando over the weekend.

Or it will be Hillary Clinton, one of the most prepared presidential candidates in recent history and a woman who has dedicated much of her career to the needs of children – from her days advocating for low-income and disabled kids with the Children’s Defense Fund to the present, when she promises real educators will have a seat at the table when education policy is being drafted.

Aided and abetted by endorsements from Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick, Trump may very well cash in on Texas’ Republican electoral tradition, but there isn’t any point in making it easy for him. And every Texan who casts a write-in vote for Bernie Sanders or simply stays home in “protest” on Election Day will be siding with Trump – and all the political garbage and potentially devastating consequences that come with him.