Friday, June 5, 2020
US flag

Sticks and stones at the president’s motorcade

An object was thrown at the motorcade carrying President Donald Trump in Palm Beach County, Florida, yesterday, and now five middle school students are facing charges in connection with the incident, CBS News reports.

One of the SUVs in that motorcade was carrying the president of the United States, and he is owed respect ex officio. The alleged actions of the students in this case are indefensible, even if they disagree with him or don’t like him. In fact, those actions would be indefensible even if an SUV in the motorcade weren’t carrying the president.

But worse than that, coverage of childish nonsense like this takes our national gaze away from coverage of important legislation now in the US House of Representatives, including H.R. 610, which is basically a school voucher program for private and religious schools on a national scale. The bill is even co-sponsored by a representative from Maryland (Andy Harris), but no major news organization has given it much attention. In fact, a search on Lexis-Nexis revealed that fewer than 10 news wire services had a reference to it at all.

What the bill would technically do would be to restrict certain block grants to states that have approved laws that promote “competition” and “school choice” by allowing parents to send their children (and federal and state money) to any secondary or elementary school established within certain geographical boundaries, regardless of the school’s compliance with federal accountability standards, such as those Congress has established for students with disabilities.

Competition in terms of funding means weaker schools and those that can’t mount a flashy marketing campaign to attract students will get shut out; school choice means that parents you don’t even know exist, not elected officials, will be deciding where your tax dollars go.

The other side of this coin is that maybe this is exactly what Americans want—to chop down schools that aren’t meeting the needs of children and replace them with profit centers including online virtual schools or even home-schooling.

If that’s truly your cup of tea and you think other people should pay for your choice, in the hope that you will drive traditional public schools that serve needy kids out of existence, then H.R. 610 is your magic ticket. It will cause states to revise their laws in order to get this money, and once this starts happening in the states, it will be much harder to stop.

The bill would also decimate nutrition standards for school meals and very much dismantle key accountability requirements that have been a part of our schools for several years now. With Betsy DeVos and Mr Trump now in charge at the federal level and even a Maryland representative willing to sign on to bills like H.R. 610, it’s clear that the administration would favor every alternative to democratically controlled public schools while showing a clear bias against public schools. Seek to about 18:45 in this video:

So can we please stop the violence, which is, to be fair, happening on both sides of the political spectrum—those who like Mr Trump and those who don’t—and get on with running government? Please? The violence is ineffective, and it is drawing the attention of people who are too important to have them not paying attention to bills like H.R. 610.

We have a country to run, and we are tired of hearing about tweets and violence. Our schools are being taken apart right under our noses, and nobody is minding the store! We waste incredible amounts of energy phoning senators asking them, in vain, to oppose an education secretary and forget that she is powerless without the best wishes of Congress.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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