Knowledge is power. We’ve all heard the saying before. So what happens when the education system in our country has begun to fail us? Over the past few decades, education has shifted from focusing on critical thinking and higher learning to focusing on test-taking and memorizing facts. “Teaching to the test” is a way to improve standardized test scores, but is not a way to improve the state of our country as a whole.
In light of the recent election, one of the many focuses has been what Donald Trump’s victory as our new president-elect will mean for education. Trump has alluded to major education reform and wants to completely transform the way that public and private schools run in this country. With the government now leaning heavily right, education is more important than ever.
Why is Education So Important?
When studying politics and deciding who will get your vote, the key is to be informed. The media can take any story and completely twist it to make it follow their own agenda, and it’s no surprise that the media completely ruled this election. To rise above what the media wants us to believe, critical thinking skills and the ability to think for ourselves is incredibly powerful.
These skills used to be taught in the K-12 school system, but they are quickly being replaced with the ability to memorize facts and spit back information to ace a test before forgetting everything that was learned. Our education system is churning out students who can memorize information, like what they hear on social media, but cannot take that information and form their own opinions about it. And that is tragic for our country as a whole.
Proper education, aside from forming people who can create new ideas and think critically, also improves the economy overall. According to current research, adding just one year of college to a region’s workforce can raise gross domestic product (GDP) per capita 17.4%. Imagine what could happen if more people in the United States could afford and complete a 4-year program.
With Trump’s victory, the White House, the Senate, and the House of Republicans are all controlled by Republicans. While this doesn’t give Trump power to do whatever he wants, it makes it a whole lot easier for him to get his way. Because of this, it’s important to look at what Trump is envisioning for the future of our educational system.
Education Under Trump
One of the most drastic changes Trump has suggested is completely cutting the Education Department. Now, this probably won’t happen, but it may be significantly reduced. This would put most of the decisions about education into the hands of the state and take the control away from the federal government.
Along with this major change, Trump openly supports choice and voucher schools. He has proposed $20 billion to allow students to attend the school of their choice, whether they be public, private, or charter schools. Pushing for parental choice and a voucher program is much more feasible with Trump working alongside a Republican held House and Senate, but only time will tell what measure he will actually be able to implement.
In terms of college and higher education, Trump also has a few ideas. He has mentioned a desire to make college more affordable by means of capping student-loan repayments and getting the government out of the student loan process. This, paired with his move towards voucher programs and charter schools, all point towards a shift to privatization of the education system as a whole.
Additionally, Trump has commented that colleges should accept students not based on race or ethnicity, but solely by their ability to succeed. Education advocates fear this because some students may not have the best grades, but can get on the right path in college. For this to happen, however, they must first be accepted to the college.
It is important to keep in mind, when thinking about this issue and other issues surrounding a Trump presidency, the actual scope of what he can do. Banning certain people from colleges and cutting Common Core, which he has also threatened, are not in his range of power. This underscores the importance of being informed when thinking about what president-elect Trump will do in office.
Education reform is very much necessary in the United States, and whether a Trump presidency will give us the reform we need or not is still unclear. It is crucial, now more than ever, that teachers, education advocates, parents, and leaders come together to make sure that our children and our schools are receiving the attention and funding that they need to be successful. Creating a successful country starts with creating a successful education program for everyone in the country, regardless of race and class.