Wednesday, November 16, 2016

4 Areas A #TrumpEducation Administration Cld Focus On More

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Since the election, I’ve been reviewing the ideas President-Elect Donald Trump has been sharing since the turn of the century. He started with The America We Deserve, where he wrote about citizenship education, teachers unions, and school safety. Ten years later, in Think Like a Champion, he touched on American history and comprehensive education. Most recently, in 2015, Trump published Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America where he lays out specific policy in a number of areas including education.  

After spending dozens of hours sifting through all those books, along with dozens of articles and videos from and about Trump, I have discovered what you’re likely to see less of, as well as three areas we might expect to see more of with a #TrumpEducation administration. Below I share four additional areas.

Each area is one where I point to evidence of where Trump stands and embed that with ideas about how this might play out based on what we know.

4 areas you may see more of with a #TrumpEducation:

  1. Less College Readiness. More Career Readiness. More Apprenticeships.
    The Obama administration laid out standards and assessments that required all students to be college and career ready. Like it or not, college readiness was thrust upon all citizens. Doing so alienated a large demographic in our country. As a result "The angriest and most pessimistic people in America are the people we used to call Middle Americans," David Frum writes in the current issue of The Atlantic. "Middle-class and middle-aged; not rich and not poor; people who are irked when asked to press 1 for English and who wonder how white male became an accusation rather than a description. They are pissed off. And when Donald Trump came along, they were the people who told the pollsters, 'That's my guy.” “You can measure their pessimism in polls that ask about their expectations for their lives—and for those of their children. On both counts, whites without a college degree express the bleakest view. You can see the effects of their despair in the new statistics describing horrifying rates of suicide and substance-abuse fatality among this same group, in middle age.”

    These are the Americans who have lost hope and who Trump has promised to help. Rather than one path to success there will be a focus on careers which can be attained via a number of pathways.

    Mike Rowe explains it this way: “The kind of recovery that Donald Trump is promising will require a workforce that’s properly trained and sufficiently enthused about the opportunities at hand. At the moment, we do not have that workforce in place. What we do have, are tens of millions of capable people who have simply stopped looking for work, and millions of available jobs that no one aspires to do. That’s the skills gap, and it’s gotta close.” Rowe has offered to assist in any attempt to reinvigorate the skilled trades, and shine a light on millions of good jobs that no one seems excited about pursuing.
    This may mean by forging alliances with corporations, the military, and community organizations.  

Vice president-elect Mike Pence understands the issue as was shared in Chalkbeat Indiana where he said that he believes we are too focused on trying to prepare all children for college and have let slip programs that prepared high school graduates to go directly to work in good paying jobs that did not necessarily require college.

Models that embraced student's passions, talents, interests, and abilities fell out of favor in the standards and testing fervor. In a Trump administration models like these could indeed become great again. Internships and apprenticeships that have faded away in current times are likely resurface with a president well-known for being TV boss of "The Apprentice."
For elementary and middle school we may see more of Schoolwide Enrichment Models where the focus is students discovering and developing their passions, talents, and interests in partnership with community organizations. This leads us to secondary school students who are ready to think about and try on possibilities for their future. This means we may return to a time where internships and apprenticeships are valued. This is embedded in Big Picture Learning where all students work while in secondary school during the school day.  Mike Pence certainly supports this view.  In his state of Indiana he put into place a bill that creates regional Works Councils that work with the private sector and educational organizations to identify needs in the area’s workforce, create partnerships between schools and businesses for internships and apprenticeships and boost career and vocational ed in high schools.

  1. Less Traditional Government Schools. More School Choices.
    1. Trade Schools: Before the days when college readiness was forced upon our nation’s public schools, sweat and dirt were the hallmarks of important work. Mike Rowe has spearheaded a movement (MikeRoweWorks) that challenges the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only path to success.  The college for all mantra resulted in trade school enrollments and their mere existence virtually disappearing, even as our infrastructure crumbles around us. Rowe points out that the ranks of welders, carpenters, pipe fitters, and plumbers have been declining for years, and now, we face the bizarre reality of rising unemployment, while at the same time we have a shortage of skilled labor. Rowe says it isn’t coincidence that this occurred when we are living in a time that Community Colleges are routinely described as alternatives to a “proper” education. Madison Avenue bombards us with messages that equate happiness with leisure. Hollywood portrayals of hard work usually embody an element of drudgery or some silly stereotype, and jobs once considered vital to our society are now simply overlooked. Whether through elitism or indifference, the net result is the same – people have slowly shied away from these jobs. Not because they aren’t important or lucrative – but because they are simply not celebrated.

      Meanwhile, Trump told PBS Newshour that we are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals.  We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, second to none.  And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it. We will do that by returning to a time when the trades are valued and trade schools are not choices about which students and their families will be ashamed.
    2. Homeschools: Gerard Robinson, a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who served as Florida education commissioner explained to The Atlantic that while Trump might not have used the words “school” or “teacher” or “education,” Education has been part of the conversation. Just not school buildings.If given the choice, Trump’s pick for education advisor is pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson. What is important to know about his top choice is that he has stated that he believes that the best education is home education.
    3. Religious Schools: One issue that is important to the Christian coalition is the right to use public funds for private religious schools. With Trump’s plan, we will likely see families use vouchers to place their children in religious schools.
    4. Independent Schools: Trump wants to empower low income families with the power to choose what type of school to attend. This means families who were shut out in the past, would now have models like Montessori, Democratic Schools, and Agile Learning, or programs like North Star Teens or Catalyst Learning available to them via vouchers and other means. Something similar has been done in Israel.
    5. Military Schools: Robinson said the military, safety, and the economy all tie back to education—bolstering the economy and maintaining an elite fighting force both require educated citizens, he pointed out. Trump sees preparation for the military as respectable outcome of schooling. In fact Trump himself went to a military academy and he found it was great foundation for the success he feels he has achieved. Considering that he wants a stronger military and his focus on careers it would not be a surprise if he wants more citizens to have that same opportunity to attend a Military Academy which he felt was so valuable.  
    6. Charter / Corporate Schools: Trump is a businessman who wants to see graduates employed. In his book, Great Again he says, “We should be embracing success stories and using them as a model for improving the others.”  Expect to see more and more corporations to be a part of those stories. More and more companies will get in the business of learning. You’ll see more and more corporations embedded into schooling with models like Microsoft Showcase Schools and platforms like Facebook’s Personalized Learning and Google Classroom.

      You will also see a rise in the number of charter schools. Once Ben Carson turned down the offer as ed secretary, Trump turned his attention to charter school gurus like Eva Moskowitz and Michelle Rhee. Charter schools are the heart of corporate school reform.
  2. Less Unemployment. More Student Employment Opportunities.
    With a Trump Education plan, employment rates of high school and college graduates could increase. Trump understands Americans don’t buy the argument that college degrees are the only path to prosperity. Pence says he hears all the time from employers that they can’t find workers with the skills they need. As reported in StateImpact, as governor of Indiana, Pence worked to sign bills in that would ensure schools work just as well for our kids who want to get a job after high school as they do for our kids who want to get a college degree. He believes that career and vocational education in high school will help attract new investment, create more jobs, and will help reduce dropout rates.

  1. Less Student Loan Debt. More Financial Stability for Students.
    Trump shared with Inside Higher Ed that he will start holding schools accountable for ensuring their students are ready for careers. In a speech given Ohio, reported that Trump said he  wants to take steps to push colleges to cut tuition costs. He says if the federal government is going to subsidize student loans, then colleges must be held accountable to invest in their students. If schools do not invest endowment money to reduce costs, Trump said the government may reconsider whether they deserve to keep those endowments tax-exempt.

    On Trump’s website he says he will "ensure that the opportunity to attend a two- or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or a skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access, pay for and finish."

Once in office, will Trump change his mind? Will his ideas evolve, grow or dissipate?  Of course, but with the information he has shared as of now, this is one version outlining what we might see more of with a #TrumpEducation.

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?

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