Wednesday, January 18, 2017

We Have A New Nation With Right Wing Billionaires Taking Care Of The Poor

This article is ostensibly about the nomination hearing for Trump's nominee to become the Secretary Of Education in the United States of America.  Her only qualification for the job is that she wants to dismantle the system of public education in the United States of America.  She has been given the opportunity to get that job by donating large sums of money to Republican politicians and by her advocacy for a fundamental Republican idea; that is, the idea that private enterprise can do everything better than government. The conservative economist Milton Friedman championed that idea during the cold war when the US and the USSR were battling for the hearts and minds of much of the world.  He argued that almost everything that was being done by governments was less efficient than the market system.  He wrote a book called "Fee To Choose" which championed the idea of consumer sovereignty.  He applied that idea to the education system by introducing the idea of a voucher system in which public funds would be provided to "consumers" who were free to choose schools provided by private entities.  The voucher system, and the related idea of charter schools operated by private entities, have been tried out in various parts of the country since the idea was introduced by Milton Friedman.  The results have been mixed.  Charter schools were a disaster in Michigan where they were promoted by Trump's candidate for the US Secretary of Education.  She managed to get the Republican state legislature to take actions which would not hold the Charter schools accountable for academic performance.

The questions and answers in this hearing tell us a lot about the future of public education in the United States of Trump.  Public school performance, like the performance of Charter schools, are mixed.  We have excellent public schools in many school districts and also poor performing public schools, particularly in inner city school districts.  That led to one line of defense for Trump's nominee by Republican senators.  The public schools are failing to educate blacks and other poor families in the inner cities.  Therefore, we need alternatives that will give poor families the choice to send their children to Charter schools or voucher supported alternative schools.  Freedom of choice is the market based solution for educating the poor.  That idea would be sound if families were free to choose from a variety of private high performing schools.  In Detroit the Charter schools have not provided a better alternative than the public schools but "free to choose" is the selling point for the failing Charter schools.  It does not matter whether they provide a better education.  Those who oppose the privatization of the public education are enemies of the poor and Republicans are the champions for the poor.

One Republican senator argued that one of the best education programs ever developed by our government was the GI bill of rights which provided veterans returning from World War ll with vouchers that they could use to attend college.  That was a very successful government program that benefited them and our society.  The difference between that program and the promotion of vouchers in our public schools are obvious to almost anyone but Republican senators.  The veterans were able to choose any college for which they qualified.  There were a large number of high quality colleges and universities with excellent reputations for them to attend.  Poor families in our inner cities do not have the "free choice" to select from a large number of high performing alternatives to the public schools in their districts.  Many of the alternative schools that have been successful have been able to select the most promising applicants just like our successful colleges.  In some states high performing suburban schools have accepted a limited number of inner city students.  Those students have performed well, and they also widened the social experience of the local students in these districts.  The basic problem with the public education system has nothing to do with our ability to operate high performing public schools,

The answers given by Trump's nominee to many of the questions, asked by Senators not under the influence of Milton Friedman, are also revealing.  She has no experience or educational credentials that prepare her for the job that she seeks.  She is like several other Trump nominees in that she he is an opponent of the system that she is supposed to be leading.  Trump's nominee to run the Environment Protection Agency is an attorney who has filed 18 lawsuits against the EPA.  Trump has a mission to weaken government agencies that promote the general welfare and to strengthen government agencies that advance the interests of the social elites who he has pretended to oppose.

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