Donald Trump released a new video explaining his proposals for U.S. K-12 education policy. As an education analyst, let my try to break down Trump’s nuanced views on education using every bit of information available in this video. Please watch the video before proceeding.
Analysis: Trump Education: It’s like Trump University, but for kids!
I’m assuming the five stars are symbolically related to his luxury hotel brand. At least, I think there are five, but students under Trump’s education plan may have a different view, depending on local math standards.
If our young people, and people in general, want to live the American Dream, it all begins with education. It’s so important.
Analysis: This video is about K-12 education, so you’d think “young people” covers it. But Donald Trump is, if nothing else, a uniter, which is why he felt the need to include “people in general.”
And yet as a country, we have Common Core.
Analysis: 42 states plus the District of Columbia “have Common Core.”
It’s a disaster.
Analysis: If you didn’t think it was a disaster, this stock photo definitely proves it. That child thinks that 12-3=15! It’s a disaster. He can do addition, but his subtraction is just a COMPLETE DISASTER! And look how frustrated he is! President Trump is going to bring in the best children who will be able to do addition and subtraction.
It’s run from Washington. It’s not run locally.
Analysis: Actually, Common Core is not “run from Washington.” The Obama administration encouraged adoption by tying it to federal dollars (which many consider federal overreach), but the standards were designed by a consortium of state governors and boards of education with funding from foundations (the curriculum to teach the standards is usually decided by the local school district). So while the standards weren’t designed by your local school board, it wasn’t exactly Washington, either. It’s like saying Donald Trump is just a carnival barker who got dunked into orange soda every day for the first 50 years of his life—there’s some truth to it, but ultimately his origins are more banal.
We still have 30 seconds, so I look forward to hearing how Trump Education will provide more local control while improving test scores for everyone, especially given that plan “is at odds with research, common sense and the education agenda of every president, Republican and Democrat, for the past 40 years,” according to New America’s Kevin Carey.
Worldwide, we’re ranked number 30, which is terrible. And yet we’re the most expensive, per pupil, anywhere in the world!
Analysis: First, and most importantly, this graphic. It’s a map of the world, overlaid by a pencil, which is also a tree, whose leaves are flags of different countries. For some reason, South Korea, France, England, Spain, and Germany get two flags. Oddly, the American flag is by far the biggest, even though it should definitely be smaller than average, because, according to Donald Trump, we are currently ranked 30th. But then again, why are these flags functioning as leaves at all, wouldn’t this be a very inefficient pencil, and could forcing students to use these pencils perhaps account for part of the reason why they fare so poorly on standardized tests?
Next, Trump says we’re ranked number 30. This is close-ish: In 2012, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked the United States 27th in math and 17th in reading out of 34 countries.
We’re not the most expensive in the world, however. According to the OECD, we’re the fourth most expensive, after Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Norway. Of course, those countries do rank higher than we do in terms of math and reading. It’s also colder there, and the environment is not good for growing tree-flag pencils.
We have to get rid of Common Core. We have to bring education to a local level.
Analysis: Many people don’t like Common Core and its new approach to math, sometimes odd reading-comprehension questions, and rushed adoption. But ultimately, because a state decides whether or not to implement Common Core, if Donald Trump were to force states to eliminate Common Core it would be the opposite of local control and it would also be illegal.
And you watch what happens. We’re gonna zoom along that chart.
Did you see that hand motion? Those tiny hands cut through the air so quickly!
Ok that wasn’t fair. By national standards, Trump has small hands. But under his plan, localities can decide their own local hand-size standards.
And we’re gonna do so much better
Analysis: How much better?
So. Much. Better.
Analysis: Oh, word.
Wait, what is the actual plan?
If Donald Trump is President, you’re gonna be very happy
Analysis: Sure, that sounds unlikely, until you realize that under Trump’s plan some local school boards will define happiness as “the inability for minority students to go to school without the threat of violence by Trump supporters.”