Monday, October 3, 2016

Fear or Hope

I decided to focus this blog post on race, education, and the election. It wasn't as easy to find Trump's views on racial issues as it was Clinton's. Rather, Trump's focus is aligned with immigration. As a result, this post is weighted more heavily on one major presidential candidate, and does not act as an endorsement for either of the two major candidates. Here's a website that gives some of the issues from the election, and matches you with a candidate to make an informed decision. In case you missed SNL on Saturday, here are the great Emmy Award Winning Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon making us laugh.

In SED 561 we listened to recordings about integration, desegregation, and school choice. The Problem We All Live With discussed a segregated school losing it's accreditation, and the students having the option (through the transfer law) to bus into a mainly white school over 30 minutes away. New York Times Reporter, Nikole Hannah-Jones shared first-hand accounts from this accidental school integration, and proof that integration works. Let's see how the two major candidates educational policy address integration. Hillary Clinton's Educational Plan includes rebuilding American schools and modernizing education while Donald Trump wants to add the freedom of choice.
Hillary Clinton: "Rebuild America’s schools. In cities and rural communities across America, there are public schools that are falling apart—schools where students are learning in classrooms with rodents and mold. That’s unacceptable, and it has to change. That’s why Hillary will build on the highly successful Build America Bonds program to provide cities and towns the capital they need to rebuild their schools. These “Modernize Every School Bonds” will double the Build America Bonds subsidy for efforts to fix and modernize America’s classrooms—from increasing energy efficiency and tackling asbestos to upgrading science labs and high-speed broadband."
Hillary's primary focus in this excerpt is the quality of the building and resources that students are provided. Elisa Crouch reports about the quality of schools in Normandy, Missouri. She explained the classroom smelled of mildew, the ventilation system was broken, un-certified teachers were teaching, among other unacceptable practices, According to Ms. Crouch the bar was set pretty low. These resources are important to a child's education, and not afforded to all. There is clearly a discrepancy, and it appears that where the tax dollars are, goes the best resources and the "best" schools. The following is a quote that Hillary proudly shares on her campaign website.
"Education should be the great door opener, and yet we know it often doesn’t turn out that way. I think every child in this country deserves a good teacher in a good school, regardless of the ZIP code you live in. -Hillary Clinton, March 10, 2016 
Hillary believes that every child deserves a good teacher despite their zip code, and her plan to modernize teaching includes better preparation, support, and pay for teachers. It seems that Hillary believes with this reform, teachers will be "set for success."

"As your President, I will be the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice. I want every single inner city child in America who is today trapped in a failing school to have the freedom – the civil right – to attend the school of their choice. I understand many stale old politicians will resist. But it’s time for our country to start thinking big once again. We spend too much time quibbling over the smallest words, when we should spend our time dreaming about the great adventures that lie ahead." - Donald J. Trump September 8, 2016

Trump's ideas for school choice mirror Part II of The Problem We All Live With, where we learned about magnet schools in Hartford, CT. In Hartford, the parents are choosing to opt their students into integrated schools, while being enticed by beautiful science labs, atriums, or planetariums. Most of what we heard were positive reviews on school choice. According to Chana Joffe-Walt, these magnet schools took "hundreds of millions of dollars" to transform. This money came from parents of privilege in the "culture of power" coming into the school. Unfortunately, Joffe-Walt explains that if the quota isn't met, these schools don't get the money required to operate. 

So, the divide between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appears to be fixing schools in your zip code, versus having the option to choose schools outside of your zip code. 
When I imaged searched for "zip code" this famous zip code appeared. Check out
the lack of diversity here, and the power of privilege this meme portarys!
After listening to This American Life, it appears that both sides have very little potential to thrive with these proposed plans. They sound great at first! Spend money to make schools better. Who doesn't want more money in their schools? But, you can throw all of the money in the world at a burning fire, and the fire will still burn. Or, you can choose to call a bag of dog poop whatever you want, but it's still just a bag of dog poop. Until the candidates (and the rest of the country) get down to the meat and bones of the issue, there won't be any immediate changes. At least not in the "high poverty areas" or "inner cities" these candidates are concerned with. What is required for the schools to work is to combat racism and continue integrating our schools. 
Fixing segregated schools versus integrating schools. "Because integrating schools, the very conceit of integrating schools is that you have to pay attention to race. And you have to acknowledge that you have a problem with racism And it's more comfortable to say that it's not an issue about racism. It's just an issue about high poverty schools that need help and need more money and need more resources." -The Problem We All Live With
Dr Martin Luther King – honorary degree speech text
Years later these three great problems are still urgent!
In the excerpts taken from both candidates website, they do not explicitly address the racism in schools. Racism is the problem we all face! Some of us prefer the color-blind approach and are ignorant of the issues right in front of us (Armstrong and Wildman). Hillary Clinton addresses that students education should not be hindered because of their zip code (high poverty area), she doesn't mention anything about the race of the individuals. According to Allan Johnson, she is ignoring the elephant in the room. The elephant being "society and it's people whom a decent and productive social life that is true to the best of our essential humanity continues to be elusive," (Johnson, p. 13) Lisa Delpit states "you can't deal with a problem if you don't name it; once you name it, you can think, talk, and write about it." "When you name something, the word draws your attention to it," (Deplit, p. 11) These candidates are missing their chance to change history, or at least put their best foot forward in attempting to. 

On October 2, twelve days after Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by a police officer in Charlotte, NC, Democratic nominee, Hillary R. Clinton visited a church in NC and talked about race. 

"Because my grandchildren are white, because they are the grandchildren of a former president and secretary of state, let’s be honest here, they won’t face the kind of fear that we heard from the young children testifying before the city council," Clinton said.
Clinton might have it figured out! She has recognized there is a problem, and understands the privilege she has. Clinton recognizes that racism isn't just a problem for people of color, but rather the collective masses. Johnson asserts that we must "deal with it before we collectively pass it along to the generations that will follow ours," (p. 15). While we inherited this legacy of racism, we can make a change. Hillary claims this is an issue she cares about, and she wants to be in a country where black children are not treated different from white (those who are privileged). 
"I care deeply about this because it's not just so personal to so many of us, it's about the kind of country we want to be and the future we want for all of our children and grandchildren. I think about that every time I see my grandchildren or every time I see a bright energetic impressive young woman like Zianna," -Hillary Clinton, October 2, 2016.
Often times with our white privilege comes "the luxury of obliviousness" meaning we are not aware of this privilege. Hillary is aware, and also the corollary that because of her privilege someone is disadvantaged.  (Johnson, p. 24). 

According to Lisa Delpit, we should not just fix the schools, provide the students professional development, assess them differently, or add additional resources like science rooms as suggested by both candidates. We have to, however, look at the five aspects of power and how they affect our educational system. Delpit suggests "that appropriate education for poor children and children of color can only be devised in consultation with adults who share their culture. Black parents, teachers of color, and members of poor communities must be allowed to participate fully in the discussion of what kind of instruction is in their children's best interest," (Delpit, p.45-6) "We have shown that oppression can arise out of warmth, friendliness, and concern. Paternalism and a lack of challenging standards are creating a distorted system of evaluation in the schools. Educators must open themselves to be affected by these alternative voices" (p. 46) The alternative voices again being people of color.
Current Secretary of Education, John B. King Jr.
For our presidential candidates to show they get it, according to Delpit, they would need to appoint a person of color as Secretary of Education, and into other cabinet positions. Deplit requires us to seek out those with perspectives different from ours, and giving their words complete attention. So while we have listeners and talkers in this world, the listeners need to speak up, and the talkers need to listen to the problems and issues in America.

So I'll leave you with information on all four candidates' (yes, there's 4) educational policies, and a link to register to vote in case you are not yet registered. Remember it is part of your civic duty to vote, so get out there and let your opinion be counted and heard. Every election campaign is run on either fear or hope. "Successful campaigns tell a story." Make sure you know which story your candidate is telling. "The filter is to identify the threat or opportunity; fear or hope. There is a victim of the threat, or the denied opportunity. A villain, a resolution, and a hero," Tom Mason, How to Win an Election.


  1. I love the approach that you took in your blog. It was really hard to not target Trump in this blog since he is very much in the "spotlight" for his racist comments - so I really like your neutral, fact of the matter, approach to your blog! I love your meme, it clearly sums up what we have talked about so many times in class...good ol' white privilege!

  2. I agree with Stefanie and commend you upon maintaining a neutral tone. Most of us did not share your temperament this week. You really did a fantastic job relating the candidates to all of the issues we discussed and isolating which candidate sees more eye to eye with the authors we have read. Excellent point about the secretary of education and their role as one of Delpit's gatekepers. Also, I couldn't help clicking on the Billy Madison link... Thanks again for sharing.

  3. It is difficult not to be biased given all of the information that hits us on a daily basis from the media. You did cover the issues well and focusing in on race and education is directly related to what we do. Also, that Saturday night skit is great.

  4. I loved reading this post! It was very objective and really speaks up for teachers who don't get their voices heard on educational policy. Both Trump and Hillary have ideas for educational policy - every president and politician - actually every single person who breathes feels like they have ideas and opinions on educational policy. But these people (if they aren't teachers) are missing big chunks of vital information from teachers and what works in these policies. I love that you addressed the elephant in the room. Thank you!