While supporters of public education are justifiably concerned with the selection of Betsy DeVos as the next secretary of education because of her advocacy for charter schools and vouchers, the real impediment to providing a quality education for all just might be Trump’s tendency to use Twitter posts to articulate positions and to address perceived injustices.
Trump tweeted that millions of people voted illegally, a baseless assertion. Educators endeavor to teach students to support assertions with reason, evidence and facts to distinguish genuine information from biased propaganda.
The president-elect makes statements that would fail any test of sound critical thinking. If he made such statements at a press conference, he would hopefully be asked to support such an assertion with evidence (this assumes the media will be free to ask questions during the Trump presidency). But if such untruths are repeated often enough, they may eventually be seen as truths in a culture enamored with conspiracies and fake news.
When the leader of the free world expresses ideas lacking in a modicum of sound critical thinking, young people might see it as a license to do the same. Trump also tweeted that there should be consequences for burning the American flag — “perhaps loss of citizenship or a year in jail” — although it is constitutionally protected free speech. Such ignorance has the potential to produce citizens who make uninformed irrational choices.
This might be perceived as a cynical ploy to divert the public’s attention from important issues, but the real casualty will be education.
Larry Hoffner, retired
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The following was written to Retired Teachers Chapter Leader Tom Murphy in response to his monthly columns:
You lost big, but not me. True Americans and patriots won big! I and many other UFT members are furious with the union for the way it spends COPE funds.
Stephen Honig, retired