It’s time to send the sniffer dogs into the rubble of America’s 2016 presidential election to see if there’s anything worth saving. We’ve learned some important things. We have learned that at the lower end of the income scale, the white vote is broken, or more accurately, brokenhearted. Many middle-class white voters are angry over a system they say has failed them.
They aren’t the only ones. America’s inner cities, its poorest neighborhoods, are increasingly on edge. One of these days, they could blow on the scale of the 1960s.
Much of this has to do with dismal job prospects, and better growth is part of the answer. But there’s a bigger problem than growth—the diminished state of American education.
Without an education upgrade that matches learning skills with modern jobs, all these people will still lose ground, and personal behavior will continue to degrade.
No better source of information exists on this than employers, especially manufacturers, who say U.S. schools, notwithstanding claims of improved “graduation” rates, are not producing sufficient numbers of workers able to perform at the level they need for the realities of the 21st century workplace. Apparently the universal skill of being able to manipulate a cellphone to take a selfie isn’t enough.
During a September visit to a charter school in a black neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side,Donald Trump said, “I will be the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice,” and an advocate for merit pay “so that we reward our best teachers instead of the failed tenure system that rewards bad teachers and punishes the good ones.”
He at least will say publicly that the U.S. public education system just doesn’t work anymore for too many people.
The natural A-students will be fine. This reality allows many smart people to stop thinking about the country’s most socially destructive problem. But for many others, elementary and secondary school is a drag on lifetime achievement. What the cry from the Trumpian heartland has revealed is that many rural schools also offer the same futureless education as inner-city schools.
These people aren’t irredeemably stupid. Their schools are stupid. Fix the schools and half of America’s myriad problems are solvable.
A new element is the descent of U.S. colleges and universities into PC hell. A basic mission, to prepare students for the new workplace, is being rechanneled into wheel-spinning controversies, such as “hurtful” speech or names on buildings. A Clinton win will empower this insanity.
Some of these institutions of higher learning actually brag about the remedial-education programs they offer first-year students who were waved through 12 years of inadequate public schooling. By 18, it’s too late. They will never catch up.
Take your schools pick: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. It’s no choice, because the proposed education policies of Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale) are, incredibly, a step back from the baby steps Barack Obama managed.
The National Education Association has spent $14 million so far to elect Hillary. The chances that a President Clinton would buck this industrial-age teachers union, whose raison d’être is killing teacher accountability, are zero. Her web site extols pouring more federal money down the public-schools mine shaft.
The proven alternative is charter schools run by innovative educators or voucher-supported schools run by churches—if they can survive. Talk to a charter-school leader like Eva Moskowitz in New York and she will tell you how they use squads of pro-bono, white-shoe lawyers to fight off nonstop litigation by the teachers unions hitting the streets for Hillary Clinton.
The school-choice movement gets everything thrown at it, such as the 19th-century, anti-Catholic Blaine Amendments in 38 states that thwart support for poor kids attending parochial schools. The Podesta-Palmieri-Halpin emails make clear this hoary religious bias thrives in the post-Obama Democratic Party.
Back in his teleprompter-speech days, Donald Trump appealed to black and Hispanic audiences. Many inner-city black Americans know Mr. Obama didn’t do as much as they expected for their kids’ education. In fact, he spent his entire presidency trying to defund the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program.
That President Obama’s daughters went to private Sidwell Friends in D.C. encapsulates this entire issue. It’s not just Mr. Obama constantly self-referencing about how “folks like me” can substitute a Sidwell for public-school chaos. Most “folks like me” aren’t in charge of the federal government, which has the authority to change the status quo. Instead, Eric Holder’s Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Louisiana’s successful voucher program for poor children.
The moral catastrophe of the schools is one of the issues that lets people pretend to themselves “it will get better” if Hillary wins. It won’t. After she wins, this problem will remain—lack of learned skills, lack of hope, an economy separating them from people like her smug campaign workers. One thing is certain: The anger will grow.