What is he thinking??? Oh wait … Donald Trump does not think; Donald Trump acts purely on the emotion of the moment, said emotion typically being profit or revenge.
Today it is announced that he plans to ‘overhaul’ the federal government and the core of this ‘overhaul’ will be to combine the departments of Education and Labour. Please note that while the fruits of one ultimately feed the other, these two absolutely do not go hand-in-hand. It would be impossible to find a person to lead this new department, for what qualifies one does not the other. Oh … that’s right … qualifications for a position are irrelevant in Trumplandia. According to Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the two departments are “overlapping and duplicative”. Mick, obviously, is not the brightest bulb in the pack.
Now, here is the really disturbing part for those of us who believe that the goal of education is to open minds, to teach young people to think, to understand the world (or at least try to) and to develop into active citizens who can participate and contribute to the democratic process and American society. The main goal, apparently, of this departmental merger is to “allow the Trump administration to focus its efforts to train students in vocational skills in one place.” In other words, start preparing them at a very early age for their ‘vocation’ in life. Rather than introducing them to a wide world of possibilities, train them, give them the skills for a job when they leave school. Does anybody else feel a chill here?
Picture this: The ‘labour’ portion of the department determines that in ten years there will be a shortage of … oh, say bricklayers. So, the ‘education’ side of the department begins focusing more on teaching bricklaying skills. Yes, yes, that is a ridiculous example, but … you see my point? Rather than opening young people’s minds, the focus appears to be on directing, or guiding young people into the bins the government decides they belong in.
The Education Department is the smallest Cabinet agency in number of employees, with just under 4,000, and a $68 billion budget. It oversees federal student loans, distributes K-12 education funding, and enforces federal civil rights laws at public schools and colleges. Think about this: your son/daughter is about to graduate high school and is planning for college. He is undecided just what path he wants to take in life, so is planning to begin with a Liberal Arts program to gain some insight. But … he cannot get a student loan. He could get a student loan if he were interested in studying brick-laying, but the government directs what academic pathways it will or will not support. So, the young person who wishes to study philosophy or history will only be able to do so if he can fund it himself. The only people, ultimately, who would be well-educated enough to hold high public offices would be … wait for it … the wealthy!!!
I focus here on the effects this plan would have on education, but there are also concerns by trade unions and others that such things as worker safety, minimum wage laws and fair labour laws would suffer.
The Republican Party has long wanted to do away with the Department of Education altogether. In 2016, Donald Trump said that the Department of Education “is massive and it can be largely eliminated.” This from a man who is ‘largely’ uneducated and cannot manage to string together a coherent sentence! And his choice for Secretary of this department, Betsy DeVos, has long advocated elimination of the department. Details have not been made available, so I can only generalize here, but I have grave concerns, knowing the mentality of the current administration, of any reorganization attempts. We have come to understand that the intentions of Trump & Co are not pure, do not have the best interests of the nation and its people at heart, and that we are being lied to multiple times every single day. Think about this one for a moment: It is much easier to pull the wool over the eyes of the un-and-under-educated than those who have been exposed to a wealth of ideas and know how to interpret data and think for themselves.
Most analysts believe that Trump’s attempt to merge these two departments will fail, for it requires the approval of Congress, and with the mid-terms on the horizon, it is not likely to be a popular proposal. Nonetheless, I am disturbed that it is even being proposed. What next?