American Federation of Teachers and Trump Agree: Make Education Expensive with No Results Again
The red, white and blue balloons have deflated, and the world has begun to prepare for the impending fall of the republic. People are still discussing the Khan speech, and following comments by Donald Trump. The most consequential speeches of the convention have been shared around as examples of where each party stands, but there's one many people aren't mentioning. On the first day of the DNC, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, spoke for 3 minutes in the tone of a picket line leader. Her words, however brief, highlight the hypocritical nature of the administration of public education. Understanding her points is crucial to making a solid argument for school choice.
Weingarten's opening is designed to showcase solidarity with the words, "Brothers and Sisters." This brings us together relationally as relatives, and sets up the desired policies of the AFT as important for families. Unfortunately for families today, public schools are not setup to support the choices of families. In order to maintain this facade, Weingarten segues into Trump's "principle of fear," a wholly unironic mention in a speech warning about the future.
She continues her choose-your-own-adventure of educational policies by comparing Trump University against public schools. Weingarten mentions the principle of fear that led to "high cost seminars", and that people lost thousands of dollars and got nothing in return. Let's not forget the fact that Trump Univeristy students enrolled themselves as individuals. Their properties were not taxed to pay for their education. There were no standards by which it was judged against other educational institutions. Trump University was built as strong as the straw man built by Randi Weingarten.
It's an argument as rich as Trump tells people he is. Weingarten would have you believe that high costs with nothing in return is a bad thing. In reality, that's exactly what education spending has gotten us: people lost thousands of dollars with nothing in return by manipulating public fears that education is underfunded. Adjusted for inflation and removing the increased amount from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we've seen a 117% increase in federal spending with no increase in educational outcomes.
The cherry on top of the language is the clouding of the benefits and outcomes of public education with the associated cost. Weingarten seems to think that things don't cost any money, and we can make college and pre-education free. According to Brookings, there is no correlation with 50 years of research that public early childhood education improves child outcomes. The main problem cited is the small database of information, diversity of programs, and poor definitions of terms to define success.
If only there was a system that could bring families into a place of more control over their children's education, cuts costs while improving outcomes, and increases diversity of available specialty programs for different types of students? There is, but Weingarten would have you believe the charter school system is not an acceptable solution. The results speak for themselves, and if the AFT is as good as they try to appear, then they have nothing to fear.
Charter schools aren't perfect, but they foster the kind of creativity and critical thinking in education that Weingarten clamors for. They drive our communities to innovate, and make everyone better in the process. While Trump University and anything connected to it are a complete sham with no measurable results, charter schools continue to deliver improvements against increased funding and opposition from people like Randi Weingarten. It's time for the AFT, and anyone who cares about the education of our children, to set aside the straw man rhetoric and focus on the policies and structures that improve educational outcomes for our children. The empirical data from decades show our policies are not effective. For the sake of our kids, let's stop allowing their arguments to be effective as well.