Sunday, November 20, 2016

Education and Manufacturing Training

Everyone's all worked up about the Hamilton situation, which is too bad because it leaves opponents of Trump in the position of lionizing an elitist cultural institution which glorifies a central banker and supporters in Trump in the position of whining in a butt-hurt fashion.

But enough of that.  Today let's consider education.

Trump recently met with Michelle Rhee, a poster child for the school reform movement and former chancellor of the D.C. public school system.  Rhee will likely not be Trump's Education Secretary, as she has been deemed too soft on common core for the right wing.  Still, it's an interesting meeting, and perhaps may signal that President-elect Trump intends to continue the shift away from traditional public schooling that began under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, or perhaps be even more aggressive about the shift.  Money currently designated for low-income schools or low-income students might end up going to school vouchers instead:

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten believes Trump could bankroll his $20 billion school choice plan at the expense of Title I funds, which are federal dollars for low-income public schools, or from funding that helps low-income students pay for college, because those are the biggest pots of money.

Read more here:

The federal government controls less than ten percent of the funding for schools nationally (most funding is controlled at the state or school district level), though federal funding is crucial for schools located on Native American reservations and military bases, so if President-elect Trump decided to cut federal funding for schools, both Native Americans and our fighting forces could get the put over the barrel, which would be nothing new.  Still, if you're not a Native American or an active or veteran soldier, the impact of the Trump administration can have on your school district appears minor at first glance.

The modern Right is rather fixated on vouchers.  The evidence on school vouchers to date is mixed.  The idea that vouchers are a panacea for education failures may be wishful thinking, but there's no question there have been plenty of success stories.  On the other hand, you may hear in coming years about success stories such as the aptly named Success Academy, where the success in question may have come in part by booting trouble students, making them some other school's problem.  It is difficult to make sweeping statements either way.

Similar to what I posted about yesterday with regards to the Veterans Administration, the potential danger from "choice" (which sounds great, doesn't it? Hard to argue with "choice," in the abstract) is that once-quality systems that depend on mass participation will be undermined as participants leave, thus, in the end, denigrating their quality.

It's interesting to note that voters just rejected, in this past election, two pro-school choice referendums, one in blue Massachusetts and one in red Georgia.  It appears the mixed results of years of experiments with charters and vouchers have left parents of students apprehensive about abandoning public education.

Whatever course Trump chooses to pursue, he's unlikely to bother worrying about the feelings of the American Federation of Teachers and its President, Randi Weingarten, with whom he didn't bother to meet once during the campaign. 

If President-elect Trump wants to bring manufacturing back to the Rust Belt in particular, he's going to need to figure out how to generate a well-educated labor force, as a high school degree alone by and large will no longer cut it to obtain a manufacturing jobs.  Perhaps apprenticeships (see prior link) are the answer?  Or, perhaps, manufacturing employment, in large numbers, is not really coming back in this country, period.

There is much, much more to say about education, school choice, vouchers, charters, the AFT and industrial apprenticeships, but your blogger has a massive caffeine-induced headache and has to go watch some football men crash the hell into each other for a while.  I really hope I don't end up seeing anything like this today.  Have a wonderful weekend.

No comments:

Post a Comment