Monday Reading List: Education in the States, Immigrants in College, and Being Honest About Trump

Laura McKenna of The Atlantic looks beyond the federal milieu to understand what the recent election means for education in the states:

These new state-level Republican leaders will certainly make major decisions about America’s schools in the next few years. Experts predict more school-choice legislation, greater conflict over education funding, and increased challenges to teacher-tenure laws. While Republicans are not a monolithic block—their priorities will vary from state to state—the country can expect to see certain trends unfold over the next few years. The states have always controlled education policy in this country; the federal government accounts for only 8 percent or so of all education dollars.

Whether you agree or disagree with the Obama and Bush administrations' approaches to education, the last two presidents have expanded the role of the federal government. Whatever happens under President Trump, we should expect a regression to the mean. McKenna continues:

With tax cuts a major campaign pledge at the national and state level, [Professor Ken] Wong believes that states will have less money to spend on schools. “States,” he said, “will have to find creative ways to fund their education priorities.” And less money for education is likely to mean even more conflict about the allocation of resources. [Professor Pat] McGuinn predicted that cities and urban centers, in particular, will suffer. In the past, the federal government put pressure on the states to make sure that funding was distributed fairly. Without that pressure, he said, the new Republican leaders who will help write the funding formulas for their states might give less to cities, and more to areas with higher number of Republican voters.

Regressive taxation seems like an inevitable consequence of the election as well. Given historical, and statutory, housing segregation and wealth distribution, the political cleavage of the "white working class" from other communities will exacerbate the flow of resources out of already vulnerable communities of color. Rhetoric has consequences, and on both education and infrastructure, Democrats who collaborate with the Trump administration are signaling a willingness to tolerate institutional racism.

In other news, the president-elect's anti-immigrant rhetoric could take a toll on attracting the best talent to the United States, as Nida Nahar and Stephanie Saul point out in The New York Times:

This year, the number of international students in United States colleges surpassed one million for the first time, bringing more than $32 billion a year into the economy and infusions of money to financially struggling colleges. College admissions officials in the United States caution that it is too early to draw firm conclusions about overseas applications, because deadlines for applications are generally in January and February. But they are worried that Mr. Trump’s election as president could portend a drop in international candidates. Canadian universities have already detected a postelection surge in interest from overseas. “We have seen an increase in applications from the U.S. and from international students in the last week,” Jocelyne Younan, the director of global undergraduate recruitment at McGill University in Montreal, wrote in an email. “We’ve also seen an increase in students inquiring about McGill on social media.”

Immigration always has been a primary engine of growth and innovation in this country, and the fact that our elite universities attract the top talent from around the world is an enormous boon to our culture and economy. Isolating ourselves from the most talented academes in the world will be an enormous unforced consequence of our president-elect's profound bigotry.

Speaking of which, Rishawn Biddle of Dropout Nation wants more educators to be honest about the ugliness of Trump's rhetoric:

[Democrats for Education Reform], along with others who have publicly condemned Bannon and Trump, deserve praise for doing the right thing. You can’t say your goal is to build brighter futures for all children and remain silent (or worse, work for) those whose bigotry works against making that come to pass for our most-vulnerable. Standing against Trump in general is an especially important move after it was announced this morning that U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose long record of racial bigotry and nativism kept him from being appointed to a federal judgeship three decades ago, has been nominated to become U.S. Attorney General. Given the role federal courts have played in advancing systemic reform for poor and minority children, and how the Attorney General is in charge of consent decrees over matters such as desegregating schools and expanding choice, the presence of Sessions as the nation’s chief legal officer is especially troubling.

On the other side of the spectrum, Rick Hess and Checker Finn are in U.S. News & World Report:

Our schools do such a miserable job of imparting U.S. history and civics to their pupils that it's important to exploit every "teachable moment," and this was a vivid one. We fear that it's been largely wasted or used instead for propagandizing. Education leaders insist that their response to the election outcome is not ideological; that it's simply a response to Trump's unique grotesquery. That would be easier to believe if K-12 and higher education leaders weren't so open to stripping the statues and names of revered presidents like Wilson, Jefferson and Washington from school and college buildings. If prominent Republicans weren't routinely disinvited from universities. If decent men like Mitt Romney and George W. Bush had not been routinely depicted by educators as racists, crypto-fascists and war criminals. If so many schools hadn't celebrated Obama's two elections with rallies, songs of homage and ebullient videos.

I'm all for reviving civics education, but in singling out Wilson, Hess and Finn issue a blaring dog-whistle about their preferred version of history. They also discount the legitimate fear that many immigrant, LGBTQ, Muslim, and Black students experience on a day-to-day basis. Such is the consequence of White male identity politics, I suppose.

Kevin Carey of The New America Foundation is accurate in his response:

It’s telling that, in their lengthy scolding of American teachers working in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s rise to power, Frederick Hess and Checker Finn chose to describe the president-elect as a man “whose behavior has frequently been appalling, whose policy ignorance is vast, and who appears to lack any coherent philosophy of government.” ... Trump’s ignorance is indeed vast. But ignorance is absence. It can be filled and remedied through education. Philosophically coherent governance is broadly desirable, but it’s also a somewhat esoteric concern that tends to be felt most intensely by those who have never actually governed themselves. Children of color aren’t afraid of Trump because of these shortcomings, appalling though they may be. They are afraid of Trump because he is a racist. And racism is not a failure of behavior. Racism is not ignorance. Racism is not philosophical incoherence. Racism is a specific, chosen ideology of hatred and domination.

I couldn't have said it better myself.