DeVos on American Education: Mortgage our Future

in The Political Slant by

*Aaron Rodgers may be the greatest of all time, Tom Brady may be the greatest of all time.  Mohammed Ali told us that he was the greatest of all time, and who wants to argue with him – even from beyond the grave?  But to lead my team down the field with 85 yards to go and 1:40 on the clock – with all due and considerable respect to Elway, Brees, Rivers and the Mannings –  Joe Cool is my first pick every time.

Watching those 49er teams matriculate the ball down the field was like watching an infantry unit doing drills; methodical, sharp, quick and precise, yet fluid and graceful.  The dynasty of the 80s provided entertainment the likes of which we can never see again.  Once the NFL implemented a salary cap the owner kept on spending on star players, ‘mortgaging the future’ to win today by delaying, deferring and derailing payments.  When the wall tumbled, it fell into rubble as the 9ers of the new century are only now appearing to be in recovery mode.

Mortgaging America’s future is what Betsy DeVos and her geniuses at the Department of Education are doing currently.

As one of the mindless trumpions currently running the show she is once again seeking to cut several discretionary programs, including federal funding for the Special Olympics and a grant program for college students with “exceptional financial need.”

Betsy DeVos - School Safety

She has also called for the elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) – one of the top ways to get student loan forgiveness in the United States.  The list of proposed cuts and budget amendments could fill page after page, but the key word is ‘cut’.

Education Budget Cuts - DeVos

Obviously if the government spends less on education the people trying to get an education have to spend more, and if they can’t then they can’t get that education.  Things in America are bad enough now, when good ol’ folks staring at scientific studies, charts and reports documenting the steady increase of average temperatures over the past twenty-five years declare that they “don’t believe” in climate change when scientific facts and not their beliefs are at issue.

What sort of ignorant slough of people will we become when even fewer are educated?  And what sort of charismatic leader will come along and do Trump one better by getting the unenlightened hoi polloi worked up into a fervor and make himself Chancellor?  Mortgaging America’s future is what she’s doing.  She needs to go.

Mortgaging America’s future is what she’s doing.  She needs to go.

In the first place, the primary role of public schools is not to create college-ready students to feed the for-profit universities, but to release into society young people that have the skills to fill out a job application, balance a household budget and take care of themselves.  We owe it to them to make certain that they know about alcoholism and other addictions, STDs and pregnancy and the dangers of credit card debt first, and force them to take courses for which they have neither a desire nor aptitude to take later – or maybe not at all.

In the second place, education is not a social service like a Freddy Spaghetti concert or fireworks on the Fourth.  Educating our children is a responsibility; a non-negotiable duty that comes along with bringing the darned expensive cherubs into the world.

The quantum shift in perception that induces my little nephew, when asked to roll up the window in the backseat, to touch the knob on the crank handle and wait for the glass to rise, or swipe at the TV expecting the channel to change has transformed what learning means.  It is no longer something that occurs in a shared space via a shared blackboard and shared maps & charts and a shared instructor. We are now a society of headphone users, small screen gazers, pedestrian non-lookers and internet interactors.

Youngsters learning is now something that mostly happens from watching a screen.  Whether we want it to be true or not, it is.  The real question is: Are we adults mature enough to let go of the way its always been done and do it the way that works best for these kids in this century?

Are we clever enough to take advantage of pads, tablets and other screened-devices that strain the budget less than new books as well as the plethora of information available in seemingly countless forms and formats?  Can we put our egos aside and realize that allowing and encouraging and even requiring that students get information from movies, TV programs, documentaries and other recordings does not make the teacher obsolete, but enables him to really do some serious teaching?  Or will we continue to be so afraid to relinquish the status quo that we fail to send our young adults out into the world on a level playing field with young adults from China, Japan, Germany, Russia?

Betsy DeVos did not send her kids to public school but instead a private religious school.”

Betsy DeVos did not send her kids to public school but instead a private religious school.  If her zealous Christian-ness didn’t disqualify her for the job as it should have, having no first-hand knowledge of public schools surely should have!President Trump

In his recent budget summary Trump had the nerve to opine that,

So many of America’s poorest children — especially African American and Hispanic children — attend failing public schools that afford them little hope of fulfilling their great potential.  That is why families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school option that is right for them. The budget empowers parents, especially of our disadvantaged youth, to choose the very best school for their children.

Of all the volumes of whoppers coming out of the White House, this one may be the worst.

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Let’s be clear: charter schools are for the privileged, advantaged white kids.  Kids with two moms or two dads, kids whose parents have Polly Parrot stickers or Jesus fishes on their vehicles, kids whose parents teach yoga and Tai Chi, kids whose parents have time and financial stability to get involved.  Charter schools will get us back to separate and hugely not equal; to another Brown vs. Board of Education.

On average, and these numbers are very squishy from state to state, the property taxes we pay to help fund schools amount to about one quarter of what it would cost to send one child to daycare.  Schools provide continuing child care and access to trained, skilled, dedicated educators!  Imagine that instead of reveling in this fantastic bargain, some folks complain about the property taxes!

Completely contrary to the president and to Ms. DeVos, we need to be spending more on education, much more.”

Completely contrary to the president and to Ms. DeVos, we need to be spending more on education, much more; not only the government, but also each and every parent and grandparent and childless old coot.  We cannot afford to continue to fall behind on the world stage and in the world market, and dying before we see the results of mortgaging our future will not erase the shame of not giving our kids a fighting chance to compete.

Betsy DeVos is seeking to eliminate 29 discretionary programs and declares that “our commitment to spending taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently by consolidating and eliminating duplicative and ineffective federal programs that are better handled at the state or local level.  I look forward to working with Congress to pass a budget that puts students first and returns power in education to where it belongs: with states, districts and families.”  In other words, ‘Instead of working to make education more effective by consolidating and standardizing and regulating our nation’s education at the national level, I choose to continue to cop out, put my head in the sand, be a traitor to the very concept of education and admit that dutifully doing the job I am being paid to do is way beyond me or anyone on my team.’

There is not now, nor has there ever been, an American Education System.  From the time of the first New England schoolhouse to today, local education has been paid for by local tax dollars, with local government setting curriculum and standards for hiring teachers in accordance with the bidding of local voters.  It is time for that to change.

We need an Education Revolution in this country.  We need to put someone in charge that has the nerve and vision to overhaul the entire system and institute an American Education System – one that makes sure we are sending our kids into the world with basic life skills first and creating clients for universities second.  We must acquire teaching techniques adapted to take advantage of the good parts of the internet and advancing technology.  We must stand tall and stop acting like spoiled kids and fund the damn schools properly.  Toward that end schools must stop acting like the runt of the litter, just happy to get some scraps, and envision what education looks like after the Revolution and present that vision to the taxpayers – and then hit them hard for decent funding.

Imagination, ingenuity, creativity, inspiration; all the things schools should and must engender are precisely the things of which the Department of Education and Betsy DeVos in particular are devoid.  We must not let this heartless trumpion mortgage our future, our kids’ future or our nation’s future because she is lazy, incompetent and uninterested in the public schools.  Betsy, I’m going to keep asking: Please resign for the good of America.

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Reeno

–  REENO  –

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A graduate of Portland State University, Steve Kloser is the author of “Beginning Band - A Guide to Success” and “Let's Make Music - Classroom Recorder Course”. He is also an accomplished teacher, conductor and composer, having penned numerous pieces including: La Vida and Fly With Me. Teacher, web developer, Packers fan and proud American, Reeno's usually slanted outlook often presents an unlikely perspective on issues old and new. Reeno currently lives in Portland, OR. Read more at www.reeno317.me or follow Reeno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reeno317.