I promise that this will be my last piece on trump. I really do. Well… we’ll see what happens next week. Hopefully Trump won’t do anything worth mentioning. I say this and yet, deep inside my heart, I know that the Trump train never stops. As President-elect of the US, Trump, in his typical bombastic and Trump-esque fashion, made headlines by appointing controversial figures to his cabinet. However, I believe that his worst choice up to this moment was his pick for the future of American education.
Trump School: Revisited
Last month I ventured into the murky future of Trump’s all-American education system. I was still a shy bit hopeful that Trump would not seek to carry out his pre-campaign mission to abolish the Department of Education entirely. Fortunately, that does not seem likely. Yet, here I sit, wishing that he had gone and done that instead of what he did do, which was to tap billionaire Christian creationist Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. She has no background in education nor science, and she has been the epicenter of the disastrous failure of education in Michigan, where she lobbied the state to vote against more oversight of charter schools. Her wealth has also been active in funding private religious schools and pressuring the government to replace evolution with creationism in public schools. Along with evolution-denying Vice-President-elect Mike Pence, President-elect Trump’s administration will put science out of business for at least four years. Let us consider the path that a Trump White House will take in terms of education. His Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has had one experience with education policymaking that resulted in Detroit becoming one of the lowest academically performing cities in the US. At the moment, the direction of Trump, Pence, and DeVos includes reducing government regulation on charter schools, decreasing spending on public schools (from elementary school to universities), introducing creationism into and removing evolution from classrooms, and decreasing federal spending on national science projects, including agencies like NASA. With severe budget cuts already placing an immense burden on the American students, not to mention the faltering quality of education, a successful Trump-Pence-DeVos administration will be a catastrophic event for academics in America. Classrooms will become a battlefield, with religion on one side versus science on the other. Furthermore, the leadership role that America has had in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields will be history. This will not only be damaging to research, but also to American businesses and the economy.
The Victory of Ideology
With a confirmation hearing to go before DeVos is even made Secretary of Education, not to mention other roadblocks such as potential backlash from the Democratic Party, there is still reasonable room for doubt as to whether American education will indeed suffer like Detroit’s. However, the mere fact that such an unqualified and arguably damaging person was chosen to be the next Secretary of Education is a clear sign that evidence, reason, logic, and rationality has been defeated in the face of bigotry, corruption, and ideology. It is this damning fact that hurts so much more than the reality itself; it is immensely saddening to watch the value of critical thinking sink into the dark abyss.