[Mr Norm Sauer, a retired attorney who lives in Nevada City, is a member of The Union Editorial Board and a contributor to these pages. This submitted piece also appears in the 8feb17 issue of the newspaper (here) and has garnered its expected vituperation from the usual suspects.]
A topsy-turvy upheaval characterized the start of Donald Trump’s presidency. Everything is in flux not seen since 1932 when Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated and distanced himself from Herbert Hoover. Mainstream Democrats and even Republicans are either infuriated or vexed over the outsider Trump.
Giving President Trump his due, his inaugural speech recognized ‘the forgotten man,’ and reminded us that “… a nation exists to serve its citizens … When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice …”
The media collusion with the Clinton campaign was endemic in the WikiLeaks email disclosures. The complicity destroyed any idea that establishment journalists are disinterested and principled. The press has turned from eight years of obsequiousness to frenzied hostility toward the White House: Senate filibusters are no longer subversive, but vital, and if Trump follows Obama’s example of presidential fiats, he will be considered seditious.
Meanwhile, Democrats remain concerned that Obama’s legacy has destroyed the party. How can they continue to advocate identity politics but capture the irredeemable deplorables that cost them the Rust Belt states? Civil war exists between the party leaders, but it seems lessons have not been learned, nor are Democrats getting the message.
Take, for example, the hearing vetting Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education.
DeVos, a billionaire from Michigan, has endeavored as a dedicated philanthropist for 30 years to fulfill the goal that all parents, and primarily low-income parents, have the opportunity to choose the best educational setting for their children so that all children have the opportunity to fulfill their God-given potential. She is a natural champion for the voucher-based policies Trump has promoted to help poor families afford to send their children to private schools.
My watching her being vetted in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was instructive of political divide. While each Republican senator focused on the best interests of America’s children, the Democrat senators expressed no such concern.
In an effort to appease teachers union bosses, the Democrats were tripping all over themselves to smear DeVos, each attack more bizarre than the next. An example is Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who questioned whether DeVos had ever run a bank: “Do you have any direct experience running a bank? Have you ever managed or overseen a trillion-dollar loan program?”
DeVos politely answered no, and pointed out that neither of President Obama’s Education Secretaries, Arne Duncan and John King, had ever run massive banks either.
Now, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promises for himself and all Senate Democrats not to vote for DeVos based on an over-the-top claim that she would “single-handedly decimate our public education system if she were confirmed.”
In discussing the state of public education in America, U. S. News & World Report offered a bleak and candid assessment: “In urban school districts across the country,” an education reporter wrote in 2015, “student performance is flat, poor, and minority students are experiencing staggering inequalities, and the picture is especially troubling for black students.”
Is this the status quo Schumer and the Democrats want to protect? Why do they stand in front of the doors of failing schools to keep minority and other children in? Sadly, Democrats know where their bread is buttered, and as long as teachers’ union bosses keep doling out cash to Democrats, they will continue to treat America’s students as second-class citizens.
President Trump and DeVos represent a new way of thinking. It is time to stop playing politics with our nation’s children, especially minorities and those of low income.
Consider that many sectors in our economy are moving away from old business models and trending toward more personalization, service, and flexibility. People who pick up an iPhone, summon an Uber, or order concert tickets online don’t understand why they can’t choose from a menu of school options. As technology has become ubiquitous, we have been trained to expect more choices and more options.
This trend toward individualism and choices has collided with the traditional district public education system and the powerful teachers unions that fund the Democrat Party. The education choice movement should consider vouchers, tax credits, education savings accounts, home schooling, charter schools, and private schools.
We should all work together for reform that does something big and bold to help our nation’s greatest treasure — the next generation. Let us all work together to make an American education great again.