The speech given by Donald Trump Jr. at the Republican National Convention tonight was easily the best one that has been delivered in the first two days.
Trump and his sister Tiffany humanized a candidate who has made himself into something of a caricature as he bullied his way to the top.
Trump's son made the case for his father as a man who had no tolerance for snobbery and who would restore the greatness of America (assuming that America isn't still great, of course).
While the younger Trump painted a portrait of his father as a friend of the middle class, apparently that middle class does not extend to public school classroom teachers,
This is what Donald Trump Jr. had to say about public education:
The other party gave us public schools that far too often fail our students, as actually those with no options. My siblings and I growing up were truly fortunate to have choices and options that others don't. We want all Americans to have those same opportunities. (Applause)
Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class. Now they are stalled on the ground floor. For the teachers and administrators and not the students.
You know what other countries do better K-12. They let parents choose to- where to send their children to school. It's called a free market and it's what the other party fears. They fear it because they are more concerned about protecting the jobs of tenured teachers than serving the students in desperate need of a good education. (Applause)
It is not surprising that Trump's remarks were greeted with applause since attacking teachers has become a standard form of entertainment in this country.
Public schools are one of our greatest success stories, though you would never believe it by listening to candidates from either major party. A fake crisis has been created by those who would like to profit from education, people such as the testing industry and those who are selling management of allegedly public charter and online schools. The politicians who glibly talk about restoring education decisions to local school districts are the same ones who are promoting charter and online schools that do not have to open their books to the public and can spend taxpayer money with no accountability.
Our schools do remarkably well for the most part, except for those that are located in areas where crime and poverty are the norm. The public schools are handling more students to whom English is a second language, more students with physical, mental, or behavioral conditions and more students with a nomadic existence who move from one school to the next, never staying long enough to establish any type of educational normalcy.
The people who have been responsible for the successes of public education have been the teachers, many of whom have remained in the classroom despite low pay, poor working conditions, and diminishing respect as they remain under attack from self-serving politicians.
It is impossible to imagine an intelligent politician who would ever suggest that the practice of law or brain surgery should be restricted to those who just graduated from college, yet that is exactly what many have endorsed through their continued promotion of Teach for America. In some districts, TFA teachers have been hired at the expense of more experienced teachers. Only in education is experience labeled as a detriment.
I have no problem believing Donald Trump Jr. when he speaks of how his father had him learn the Trump business from the bottom up working under people who did not have degrees from Ivy League schools.
That is certainly admirable.
But as the younger Trump noted, he and his siblings had advantages that others did not have. They attended elite schools. More power to them. You certainly cannot blame Donald Trump for making sure his children had the best possible education.
Selling the idea that you can duplicate that type of education for everyone in this country by following the shortsighted (though highly lucrative) solutions being promoted by so-called "reformers" is perpetrating an act of fraud.
Public schools are still the only educational establishments that welcome everyone through their doors and remain open and accessible to the public.
Many of the politicians who have so harshly criticized teachers and public school systems never attended a public school. It would be nice if people like Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr would take the time to get to know some public schoolteachers. These are people who often face situations few of us can imagine, with little or no support. These are people who put the children first, despite the cries that if they belong to a teacher union they are out for themselves and no one else.
They certainly do not deserve to be attacked by people who have no idea of the challenges teachers face every day.
The approach that our leaders are taking toward education is already driving talented people away from the teaching ranks. Some have left teaching careers to work elsewhere, while others are steering as far away from a career in education as possible. Someday soon, our nation's classrooms will be filled with hit-and-run teachers who stay long enough to put it on their resume and then move on to some other career.
That would truly be an educational crisis.