Monday Reading List: Public Education is a Pretty Good Check Against Lying as Political Strategy

Alyson Klein and Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week unpacked the one reference to public education in Donald Trump's inauguration speech:

In his first speech to the nation as president, the newly inaugurated Donald Trump painted a dark picture of an America that has left struggling middle-class families behind, including a public school system that spends big while getting poor results for students. "Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves," Trump said in his address from the U.S. Capitol to a packed crowd of onlookers. "But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists. ... An education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge."

There are two big things to consider here. First, the language in this speech is the kind one would use if trying to justify a strategy that takes money out of public schools as a mechanism for "improvement." That's exactly what Trump and his secretary designee, #BetsyWithTheGrizzBear, have foreshadowed.

Second, the deprivation of knowledge is an interesting concern for a man who spent the first weekend of his presidency lying. Here's The Atlantic's David Graham:

Mendacity among politicians and the spokespeople hired to spin for them runs across eras and aisles, though it is true that some are more honest than others, and Donald Trump was a historically dishonest presidential candidate. But the Trump administration has displayed a commitment to needlessly lying that is confounding to even the most cynical observers of American politics.

Trump lied about the inauguration attendance, then sent his spokesperson to reinforce the lie. One of his top advisors, Kellyanne Conway, suggested that the administration was just sharing "alternative facts."

Twitter subsequently had some fun with the idea of "alternative facts." Conway also revealed that Trump's promise to release his tax returns after a phantom audit was a lie. Below are side-by-side videos, courtesy of Slate, of Trump promising to release his returns, then Conway admitting that this was always a lie:

I bring this up, because universal, high-quality public education is one of the greatest defenses against lying as political strategy. Some of the greatest writing of the twentieth century examined the psychology of political manipulation. Michiko Kakutani, who reviews books for The New York Times, used twitter to share some of those examples over the weekend:

If you're an educator, share your favorite political literature in the comments section!