Eleven days ago Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave a revolutionary speech in Cleveland about public education that should have changed the face of American politics forever. Unfortunately few people know about this compassionate blueprint for desperately needed change. That is because the Sept. 8 address came the day after Trump’s strong performance at the Commander In Chief Forum hosted by Matt Lauer. Pundits’ tongues were still wagging furiously over what happened at that event as the thought that Trump could actually win in November began to sink in.
But it’s not just the fault of talking heads and the rest of the mainstream media. Trump did himself no favors during what was touted as a major speech focusing on education and lifting up America’s inner cities. Instead of diving right in, he devoted the first 18 minutes to attacks on Hillary Clinton over national security issues and the war on the Islamic State that had nothing to do with America’s inner cities and the decades that corrupt big city Democrats have spent oppressing inner-city children.
In short Trump’s revolutionary call to arms against the public school monopoly was effectively buried by the candidate’s lack of discipline. Consequently, few people are aware of Trump’s unprecedented proposal for a $130 billion plan to bail poor inner-city kids out of schools that don’t teach them, who are thus condemned to lives of grinding poverty.
The speech that unveiled a modern-day Marshall Plan to rescue poor kids in low-income neighborhoods from failing public schools barely caused a ripple. But if the lives of the poor in our inner cities are to change, Americans need to know about Trump’s plan.
What’s especially refreshing about the Trump proposal is that it is not half-hearted or drawn up in a way to placate Democrats, who now are not going to relinquish their control of the failed urban public school system. Republican politicians have in the past advocated relatively timid, innocuous-sounding school choice proposals but Trump’s plan is a blazing thunderbolt hurled at the education establishment that puts previous school choice proposals to shame.
Trump’s plan, which he laid out at Cleveland Arts and Social Sciences Academy, an inner-city charter school, drives home the point that Democrats are the true enemies of inner-city residents. They have a monopoly control of America’s major inner cities that goes back 50 to 100 years. Democrats want poor blacks and other inner-city inhabitants to stay exactly where they are – and keep on voting Democrat until the end of time.
Everyone with eyes knows that the urban public school system in America is a travesty. Over decades the Left took a basically good system that churned out good citizens, entrepreneurs, and employees, and transformed it into a jobs program for adults, especially Democratic Party supporters and labor bosses. It amounts to a gigantic partisan slush fund that everyone who pays taxes in America is forced to support. And no matter how much money gets spent, things never seem to improve.
Radicals like Van Jones, Jesse Jackson Sr., Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Richard Cloward, and Frances Fox Piven have been agitating in inner cities for decades, doing everything they can to keep blacks there as a power base for the Democratic Party. They do not want them to succeed. Sometimes they say this outright without resort to euphemisms or other rhetorical tricks.
Cloward, who died in 2001, and his wife Piven objectified blacks, viewing them as cannon fodder for their radical revolution. They wanted blacks to remain miserable, docile, poor, and angry in black ghettos where left-wing community organizers could manipulate them, as I showed in my book, Subversion Inc. “If the African American is to develop the power to enter the mainstream of American life, it is separatism—not integration—that will be essential to achieve results in certain institutional arenas” Cloward and Piven wrote. The black American would be better off “consolidating his power within the central city” in order to “have some impact on the environment of the ghetto itself.” Blacks have to “organize as a bloc.” Achieving “effective separatist power” would not be accomplished by arguing “the ghetto must be dispersed.”
The public school monopoly has been astonishingly effective in keeping minorities down. It has even convinced many inner-city families that it knows what is best for them. And yet the failures of this monopoly continue to accumulate. Only about one third (37 percent) of 12th-graders are prepared for college-level coursework in mathematics and in reading, according to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
As Breitbart News reports:
NAEP results, also known as The Nation’s Report Card, are measured at three achievement levels: Basic, Proficient and Advanced. Only 25 percent of U.S. 12th graders were found to be at or above the Proficient level in mathematics, including 3 percent who scored at the Advanced level in 2015. Only 37 percent were at or above the Proficient level in reading, including 6 percent who scored at the Advanced level.
In Detroit, ruled exclusively by Democrats since 1961, as CNS News reports,
Only 4 percent of Detroit public school eighth graders are proficient or better in math and only 7 percent in reading. This is despite the fact that in the 2011-2012 school year—the latest for which the Department of Education has reported the financial data—the Detroit public schools had “total expenditures” of $18,361 per student and “current expenditures” of $13,330 per student. According to data published by the Detroit Public Schools, the school district’s operating expenses in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014 amounted to approximately $14,743 per student.
Nationwide, about one fifth of high schoolers don’t graduate at all. The lowest graduation rates for low-income students are to be found in the District of Columbia (58.9 percent), Alaska (59.5 percent), Oregon (60.4 percent), Colorado (63.7 percent), and Minnesota (63.8 percent).
Trump’s school choice plan strikes at the heart of the nation’s regressive, self-serving public education monopoly that fails students while it fattens incompetent teachers, labor bosses, and bureaucrats. There is “no failed policy more in need of urgent change than our government-run education monopoly,” Trump said.
The Democratic Party has trapped millions of African-American and Hispanic youth in failing government schools that deny them the opportunity to join the ladder of American success. It is time to break up that monopoly. 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. This includes private schools, traditional public schools, magnet schools and charter schools which must be included in any definition of school choice.
Leftists immediately trashed the Trump plan because they realized how damaging it could be to their interests. The Hillary Clinton campaign said the proposal would “gut” almost 30 percent of the federal education budget to underwrite private school vouchers, and “decimate public schools across America.”
Memo to Hillary: the public schools were destroyed long ago and your allies did the dirty work.
Former ACORN chief Bertha Lewis offered the unvarnished leftist opinion of school vouchers in an interview years ago with Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute. She now runs an ACORN successor group in New York called the Black Institute. Vouchers were just “a hoax to destroy the public schools,” she said. “This is capitalism at its worst.”
Trump understands the power of educational choice. In his Cleveland speech, he said:
Too many Americans living in our inner cities have not been included in the American Dream. We are one nation, and when any part of our country hurts – our whole country hurts. My goal as president will be to ensure that every child in this nation – African-American, Hispanic-American, all Americans – will be placed on the ladder of success: a great education, and a great job. In order to help our children succeed, our first duty is to ensure that every kid in America can grow up in a safe community. You can’t have prosperity without security. This is the new civil rights agenda of our time.
As for financing his $130 billion school choice plan, Trump observed that governments spend “more than enough money to easily pay for this initiative – with billions left over.”
“It’s simply a matter of putting students first,” he said, “not the education bureaucracy.” Trump offered plenty of figures to back this up (A transcript of the relevant part of the speech follows this article below. Details of his plan are on Trump’s campaign website.)
At the state and federal levels, the U.S. spends more than $620 billion on Kindergarten through 12th Grade education every year, he said. That works out to around $12,300 for every student enrolled in elementary and secondary public schools. The federal government covers about 10 percent, or $64 billion, of the K-12 costs. The $64 billion figure is roughly half of the annual budget of the U.S. Department of Education. The other $570 billion for K-12 education comes from the states.
The candidate continued:
We spend more per student than almost any other major country in the world. Yet, our students perform near the bottom of the pack for major large advanced countries. Our largest cities spend some of the largest amounts of money on public schools. New York City spends $20,226 dollars per pupil. Baltimore spends $15,287 dollars per student. Chicago spends $11,976 dollars per student, and in Los Angeles it is $10,602.
Just imagine if each student in these school systems was given a scholarship for this amount of money – allowing them and their family to choose the public or private school of their choice.
These scholarships would empower families while creating “a massive education market that is competitive and produces better outcomes.” There is no job more important than that of a teacher, Trump said, and teachers would also benefit from these reforms as schools are forced to cater to the needs of the individual student and family, as opposed to the needs of teachers’ unions.
Trump pledged to establish a $20 billion federal block grant program to benefit the 11 million school-age kids living in poverty.
If we can put a man on the moon, dig out the Panama Canal, and win two World Wars, then I have no doubt that we, as a nation, can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America. If the states collectively contribute another $110 billion of their own education budgets toward school choice, on top of the $20 billion in federal dollars, that could provide $12,000 in school choice funds to every K-12 student who today lives in poverty. The money will follow the student. That means the student will be able to attend the public, private, charter or magnet school of their choice – and each state will develop its own system that works best for them.
Donald Trump and his advisers know that this desperately needed education reform will drive a giant wedge through the Democrat base and reshape the political landscape. That’s because there are a surprising number of big city Democrats who are not onboard with Big Education’s agenda. Courageous lawmakers like Dwight E. Evans, a black Democrat who represents Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is one of them. Evans, who has been attacked by fellow Democrats for years for supporting school choice, took down the corrupt incumbent congressman, Chaka Fattah, in April primaries. Fattah resigned from Congress in June after being convicted on federal corruption charges. Unless local Democrats stab Evans in the back, he’s on his way to the U.S. House of Representatives in a few months.
Evans believes in school choice so strongly that he co-founded a group called Black Alliance for Educational Options. Former Washington, D.C. city council member Kevin P. Chavous, another Democrat, sat on BAEO’s board. BAEO credits Chavous for helping to shepherd the charter school movement in the District of Columbia. When he ran the city council’s education committee chairmanship, charter schools grew from zero to more than 40 schools and 17,000 students in six years. That number represented 20 percent of the overall public school population in the District of Columbia, the highest percentage of charter schools in the country, according to the group. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), also helped to create BAEO when he was mayor of Newark.
When he was Washington mayor, Democrat Adrian M. Fenty, fought for continued federal funding of a small federal program that enabled poor children in the District to attend private school. He too was attacked for bucking the party line. Then-Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) was also supportive of school choice as was former D.C. mayor Anthony Williams (D).
It’s an issue that has staying power. Fortunately, not all rank-and-file Democrats can be kept in line by emotional appeals to labor solidarity. They see up close the horrors of a public school system that keeps poor blacks marginalized and powerless.
Education is ripe for revolution, and Donald Trump has stepped forward as the man who can make it happen. “I understand many stale old politicians will resist,” Trump said. “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.”
Trump Speech in Cleveland on Sept. 8, Outlining his K-12 Education Policy
Too many Americans living in our inner cities have not been included in the American Dream.
We are one nation, and when any part of our country hurts – our whole country hurts.
My goal as president will be to ensure that every child in this nation – African-American, Hispanic-American, all Americans – will be placed on the ladder of success: a great education, and a great job.
In order to help our children succeed, our first duty is to ensure that every kid in America can grow up in a safe community.
You can’t have prosperity without security.
This is the new civil rights agenda of our time. The right to a safe community, a quality education, and a secure job.
Our campaign represents the long-awaited chance to break with the bitter failures of the past, and to embrace a new American future.
There is no failed policy more in need of urgent change than our government-run education monopoly.
The Democratic Party has trapped millions of African-American and Hispanic youth in failing government schools that deny them the opportunity to join the ladder of American success.
It is time to break-up that monopoly.
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. This includes private schools, traditional public schools, magnet schools and charter schools which must be included in any definition of school choice.
Our government spends more than enough money to easily pay for this initiative – with billions left over. It’s simply a matter of putting students first, not the education bureaucracy.
Let’s run through the numbers.
At the state and federal level, the United States spends more than $620 billion on K-12 education each year. That’s an average of about $12,296 for every student enrolled in our elementary and secondary public schools.
The federal government pays for about 10 percent—$64 billion, to be precise—of the K-12 costs. That $64 billion makes up about half of the total spending of the U.S. Department of Education.
The other roughly $570 billion spent on K-12 education comes from the states.
We spend more per student than almost any other major country in the world. Yet, our students perform near the bottom of the pack for major large advanced countries.
Our largest cities spend some of the largest amounts of money on public schools.
New York City spends $20,226 dollars per pupil.
Baltimore spends $15,287 dollars per student.
Chicago spends $11,976 dollars per student, and in Los Angeles it is $10,602.
Just imagine if each student in these school systems was given a scholarship for this amount of money – allowing them and their family to choose the public or private school of their choice.
Not only would this empower families, but it would create a massive education market that is competitive and produces better outcomes.
These schools would then cater to the needs of the individual student and family – not the needs of the Teachers’ Union. There is no more important job than a teacher, and teachers will benefit greatly from these reforms.
The current government monopoly, while great for the bureaucrats, has utterly failed too many students.
According to the National Assessment of Education Progress, only 1 in 6 African-American students in the eighth grade are considered proficient in math and reading.
Failing schools then contribute to failing economies.
In Los Angeles the official unemployment rate for African-American men is almost 20.7 percent. In Baltimore, it is 16.2 percent, 14.7 percent in Chicago and 10.9 percent in New York City.
In Los Angeles, 26 percent of African American women live in poverty. In Baltimore, the poverty rate for African Americans is 27 percent. In New York, over 31 percent of African Americans live in poverty.
Nationwide, nearly 40 percent of African-American children live in poverty – including 45 percent of children under the age of six.
Our public schools are failing to put young Americans on a path to success.
Meanwhile, we have all seen the tragic rise in crime in these communities – which remains one of the greatest barriers to fostering opportunity and success for America’s children.
Violent crime rose more than 20 percent in Los Angeles in 2015. Homicides in Baltimore increased by 63 percent. There have been nearly 3,000 victims of shootings in Chicago so far this year.
Government is failing our citizens at every level.
That is why I am proposing a plan to provide school choice to every disadvantaged student in America.
That means parents will be able to send their kids to the desired public, private or religious school of their choice.
Here is how it will work.
Right now, about $1.9 billion is spent on 50 private school choice programs nationwide. These are opportunity scholarships, tax credits, and education savings accounts. This covers about 400,000 students in our country.
Altogether, school choice is serving more than 3.4 million students nationwide.
Charter schools, in particular, have demonstrated amazing gains and results in providing education to disadvantaged children and the success of these schools will be a top priority for my Administration.
They also produce competition that causes better outcomes for everyone.
My first budget will immediately add an additional federal investment of $20 billion towards school choice. This will be done by reprioritizing existing federal dollars.
Specifically, my plan will use $20 billion of existing federal dollars to establish a block grant for the 11 million school age kids living in poverty.
We will give states the option to allow these funds to follow the student to the public or private school they attend. Distribution of this grant will favor states that have private school choice and charter laws, encouraging them to participate.
This $20 billion will instantly extend choice to millions more students.
A state like Ohio will benefit greatly from these new funds. Ohio is a leader in school choice. Ohio has 5 private school choice programs that serve over 30,000 students, and 384 charter schools serving 123,844 students.
But the $20 billion is only the beginning. As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty.
That means that we want every disadvantaged child to be able to choose the local public, private, charter or magnet school that is best for them and their family.
Each state will develop its own formula, but we want the dollars to follow the student.
9 in 10 dollars spent on K-12 education is spent at the state and local level. To achieve this long-term goal, we will have to make this a shared national mission – to bring hope to every child in every city in this land.
I will use the pulpit of the presidency to campaign for this in all 50 states, and I will call upon the American people to elect officials at the city, state and federal level who support school choice.
My Administration will partner with the leadership of any inner city in America – Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit – that is willing to run a pilot program to provide school choice to every child in that community. In Baltimore, for instance, that would mean more than $15,000 funds available per student.
I am confident that the politicians will not be able to suppress the will of the people anymore.
If we can put a man on the moon, dig out the Panama Canal, and win two World Wars, then I have no doubt that we, as a nation, can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America.
If the states collectively contribute another $110 billion of their own education budgets toward school choice, on top of the $20 billion in federal dollars, that could provide $12,000 in school choice funds to every K-12 student who today lives in poverty.
The money will follow the student. That means the student will be able to attend the public, private, charter or magnet school of their choice – and each state will develop its own system that works best for them.
As your president, I will be the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school 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.
I will also support merit-pay for teachers, so that we reward great teachers – instead of the failed tenure system that rewards bad teachers and punishes good ones….
We are fighting to give every child, in every forgotten stretch of this country, the chance to live out their dreams in safety and peace.
That means a safe neighborhood, a quality education, and a secure high-paying job.
This is how we will rebuild our future.
This is how we will make America great again – for everyone.
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