Recently a short clip of a young Black child naming a supposed Donald Trump, “a disgrace to the world”, has gone viral. Trump has of course branded it as “fake news” because the Trump in the video was actually an impersonator from a show called “The President.”
But the message is still clear.
Young Black children and many children generally, are completely in tune with the disaster of our government that is Donald Trump. His hatred, misogyny, racism, insensitivity, divisiveness, and outright disgusting beliefs, practices, and policies are portrayed in the exact light that he presents them: with (cringeworthy) clarity and honesty. So, though the person in this video was not actually Donald Trump, he was a representation of the 45, and this young girls reaction was undoubtedly representative of the feelings of millions of children, especially those directly attacked by his administration, all across the world.
His disdain for the working class and issues affecting the vast majority of this country was perhaps most on display with his pick for Secretary of Education. Betsy DeVos, grand contributor of the Republican Party and staunch anti-public education advocate is the single most under-qualified cabinet member.
With the release of the education budget, Ms. DeVos and her counterpart Trump have brought this viral video and the sentiment it represents to life.
The privatization agenda presented as a budget cuts nearly 15% of the total education budget and features deep cuts to programs meant to aid poor and working class families. Some 22 programs are eliminated, including after-school programs, teacher trainings, programs for gifted students, international education, arts education and nearly anything good and enriching for students and especially students of color or from low-income families. The budget does however, increase charter school funding by 50% to over $500 million, as well as introduce a $250Million initiative to provide funding to expand research on the positive (only positive) impacts of vouchers for private and religious schools.
Many people would like to frame the privatization efforts as a partisan issue as if the entire congress did not unanimously vote for the expansion of public education programs geared towards aiding students most in need (and the budget increase to go with it). Or as if the privatization agenda as we know it wasn’t steamrolled by Obama’s introduction of competition with a preference for “choice” in his Race to the Top program.
Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of students attend traditional public schools, and despite that fact that research has shown no major upside to charter schools versus traditional public schools, and despite the fact that many religious schools have been sited for a failure to provide adequate secular education, Republicans have chosen to renege on their common sense support of public schools in order to go along the top donor lining their pockets, now named Secretary of Education.
Public education has long been under attack and the education industrialization complex we are witnessing unfold at rapid speed is yet another tool of oppression of our government.
The Federal government and many local State governments have under resourced public schools in Black, Brown, and low-income neighborhoods for decades, while building the narrative that these schools are “failing” in order to make way for privately run corporate backed charters to capitalize on the moment.
But these schools are meant to contribute to the labor force by refusing to build critical thinking skills in exchange for high stakes teaching to the test if not by contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline with “zero-tolerance” harmful disciplinary practices.
Charter schools, vouchers, education tax credits, and the various tools of the privatization agenda are all a new form of the old oppressive ways of the United States. These are all examples of profiteering on the backs on Black, Brown, and low-income communities nationwide, while denying opportunities for progression or growth.
We cannot have the wool pulled over our eyes as the now resurging “War on Drugs”. We absolutely choose public education, real public education with community control and parent input, sans the White Supremacist corporate funders or opportunity for profit as we see in the private/religious school community.
This budget is an indicator that now more than ever, we need to stand strong for the integrity of public education and the future of our children. Donald Trump and his education budget is a disgrace to the world as the young child said weeks ago.