Trump’s Education Lies Inform His Public School Privatization Scam

*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*

By now only a comatose individual is unaware of Donald Trump’s typically Republican trait of pathological lying, and that he is prone to lying about any and everything to promote himself as America’s Aryan messiah. So it is little surprise that in the same manner he lied to convince ignorant people to invest in their education with his scam Trump University, he has lied to convince ignorant voters that electing him as president is an investment in their children’s education; in under-performing private charter schools.

It is unclear exactly where Trump stands on educating America’s youth, or anything else for that matter, but based on his lies and parroting corporate privatization and anti-public school teacher talking points, his only plan is eviscerating public schools to enrich the corporate charter school industry – a failed industry not unlike his failed scam university.

To date, Trump’s so-called education plan is founded on: “Education has to be at a local level. Common Core is a total disaster. We spend far more per pupil than any other country in the world. By far. And if you look at education. Out of thirty countries. We’re last. We’re like 30th. We’re last. So we’re last in education.”

Trump’s typically Republican and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) plan is eliminating the Department of Education and transferring public education control to the local level. President Obama and Congress already accomplished handing local control to states and localities. And the idea of abolishing Common Core as one of his first achievements to save children and cut education spending is something he or any other president could never do. Part of President Obama and Congress’ “local control” agenda was allowing states and localities to adopt or reject Common Core standards at their discretion.

As a side note, Common Core standards were devised primarily by Republican governors long before Barack Obama was President. But since Donald Trump is as ignorant on education as he is foreign policy, race relations, religion and economics, he just made up lies to promote the corporate charter privatization scam.

However, since Trump felt the need to demean America’s public schools, it is worth going over a few statistics it took exactly 21 seconds to find on the Internet.

Of all of Trump’s lies on education, like all of his lies about America’s alleged “loser” status, the idea that America is dead “last in education” compared to third world or any other nations is beyond mendacious. In fact, in white neighborhoods that are adequately funded, American public school students with union teachers easily surpass their international counterparts in subjects across the board. But Trump obviously couldn’t cite that fact or his promotion of privatizing the education system would appear like the gift to corporations it is meant to be; it certainly isn’t about giving parents “choice” in educating their offspring.

Even assuming Trump was talking about the nation’s students as a whole, American students’ outcomes and international rankings based on several different nations’ results still expose everything Trump said as blatant lies. But when Republicans attempt to frighten parents into abandoning public education for a failed privatized charter system, something an overwhelming majority of Americans do not want, they have to lie because the truth destroys their agenda in a heartbeat.

For three examples of just where American students rank among their worldly peers it is best to first look at the results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. In that test, American students ranked right in the middle, not dead last.

Likewise, in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) standardized examinations, American kids ranked 7th out of 42 countries;  a damn sight farther away from, and nowhere near, dead last as Trump stated.

Yet another standardized international exam, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, out of 53 education systems from around the globe, America’s public school students ended up ranking sixth; nowhere near “dead last” as Trump claimed.

No matter how one frames American student’s achievement or with what measure, compared with the rest of the planet’s education systems, American public school students rank at least above average; and that statistic has remained solid going back decades and long before the Republican push to privatize the education system to enrich failed corporate charter schools.

Now, Trump’s claim that America spends more than any other nation on education is as big a lie as his assertion that American students are ‘dead last’ in the world. America’s goal is educating every student to give them a chance to go to University, something completely unique and different from that of most other countries. This country’s educational funding system is also unique in that local property taxes play a significant role in funding that leads to vast inequities from one school district to another; often in the same city. And since it is well-documented for decades that poverty rates correlate to student’s test scores, with America’s world-leading child poverty rate, it is a miracle students aren’t dead last based on the lack of adequate education funding that several countries exceed.

For example, America’s spending on education, even including education funding being stolen by Republicans to fund private religious and corporate charter schools, still lags far behind Switzerland, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden according to a 2014 study by conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). And, as mentioned above, when America’s schools are funded appropriately, America’s public schools are among the highest achieving in the world; the complete opposite of dead last as Trump says.

Donald Trump is as inept on the subject of public schools and education policy as he is a pathological liar. Of course he cannot possibly state the real condition of America’s public education system because it would deny him the ability to lie about why replacing America’s free public education with corporate charter and private religious schools would “make America great again.” As many pundits and Democrats have already noted, America is already great and it is no stretch to say part and parcel of the greatness lies in its ability to educate all Americans if Republicans don’t decimate the system, something Trump pledges to do to enrich the corporate charter school industry.