“The people running our public schools don’t want to damage a student’s self-esteem. They’re concerned about “empowerment.” They’re worried kids will feel bad if they get a problem wrong or flunk a spelling test. …Some educators think being “judgmental” is the worst of all sins. The problem is that life tends to judge-and harshly at that. There’s no room for error when you’re launching the space shuttle. Or mixing the concrete for the foundation of Trump Tower, for that matter. Try giving a number “in the neighborhood of” on your tax returns and you may end up in a place where there’s a very definite number stamped on the back of your shirt.”
Source: The America We Deserve, by Donald Trump, p. 69 , Jul 2, 2000
Trump has repeatedly used bigotry and xenophobia to disparage English Language Learners and people with disabilities. Above, he goes after all struggling, less traditionally academic populations by promoting “no excuses” accountability rhetoric.
The misconception that accountability of teachers and schools can shame children into learning has escalated high-stakes testing and accountability for “failing” schools. There is no evidence to support the notion that US schools are failing, and in fact NAEP scores have shown gradual but consistent growth for decades across grade levels and states (Allignton 8).
The fear that we lag behind other countries is also unfounded. Stephen Krashen notes that when we control for poverty, the U. S. is among the best-educated nations in the world.
Henry Giroux explains, “The current attack on public and higher education…is symptomatic of the fear that right-wing reactionaries have of critical thought and the possibility of a generation emerging that can both think critically and act with political and ethical conviction (140).”
Political and ethical conviction is what compels educators to be “concerned about ’empowerment'” for children. Yes, Mr. Trump, “life tends to judge harshly,” but it’s impossible and unconscionable to bully teachers or children into learning.
Allington, A. (2002). Big Brother and the National Reading Curriculum. Heinemann: Portsmouth, NH. Print.
Giroux, H. (2013). America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth: Reform Beyond Electoral Politics. New York: Monthly Review Press.
Krashen, S. (2011). Protecting Students Against the Effects of Poverty: Libraries. New England Reading Association Journal 46.2: 17-21,102. Retrieved from: http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/articles/protecting_students.pdf