Envisioning a Trump Education Stump Speech

There is no question that the rhetoric (or supposed rhetoric) of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has taken on a life of its own. The perception of Trump’s campaign words seems to have generated extreme emotions on both sides of the political spectrum.

But when one takes a closer look at some of his prepared remarks, we actually see a political candidate who tries to walk the middle ground. A businessman who enjoys talking in the collective “we” and focuses largely on positive themes. Don’t believe me, take a look at some of his prepared remarks.

Yes, Trump’s education platform is a virtual blank slate. Being opposed to the Common Core, when the president really has nothing to do with its implementation, is hardly administration-leading policy. But even if we don’t know “what” education policy under Trump may look like, we have a good sense of “how” he would talk about it, particularly in the early going.

Trump’s celebratory remarks following his wins on Super Tuesday earlier this month provide the perfect template for a beginning Trump education policy speech. So let’s use it as an education speech Mad Lib, if you will. Just imagine, when the references to the economy and the campaign are substituted with education-specific content, what he’d sound like (with edu-edits to the actual Trump speech in italics). The result is surprising, and quite in line with the current edu-debates:

Thank you very much. I appreciate it. And I appreciate all that parents are doing to help make American public education great again.

I want to congratulate Ben Carson on his confirmation as my Education Secretary. He worked hard, I know how hard he worked actually, so I congratulate him and look forward to all we can now do working together.

We are going to make American education great again, folks. We’re going to make it great again.

I’ve watched the leaders of our teachers’ unions talking about how teacher pay is poor and teacher working conditions are poor and everything’s poor and everyone is doing badly, but that they are going to fix it. The NEA and AFT have been saying the same thing for so long long. If they haven’t straightened it out by now, they aren’t going to straighten it out in the next four years. Our schools are just going to become worse and worse.

The unions say they want to make American public education whole again, and I’m trying to figure out what that is all about. Make American public education great again is going to be much better than making American public education whole again.

This is going to be a tough four years for Randi and Lily. They had a tough election in November, but worked hard. They spent a lot of money. But we won the election, despite them. I know that a lot of groups, a lot of the special interests and a lot of the lobbyists and the people that want to have their little elected officials do exactly as they want. They’re going to continue to put millions into efforts to try and stop my policies. I think that’s fine. As far as I’m concerned, it’s fine. Had Hillary won, the unions and their lobbyists would have had total control. But we saw what happened.

Our win was just a great win because America is a place that is just spectacular. America is an amazing place to go to school. It’s been amazing to see so many focused on improving our schools. It’s been just so beautiful to watch this administration grow and to watch it grow so strongly, so quickly.

Throughout the campaign, some questioned how great this administration would be. They questioned the great company we built, and whether we would be able to put that same ability into doing something for our nation. Our nation is in serious trouble. We’re being chilled on student performance, absolutely destroyed. China is just taking advantage of us. I have nothing against China. I have great respect for China, but their teachers are too smart for our teachers. Our teachers don’t have a clue, and the student performance gaps just continue to grow. The learning gaps seen on TIMSS and PISA are just too much. It won’t be that way for much longer. We have the greatest education leaders in the world in my administration and, believe me, we’re going to redo how we teach our kids and it’s going to be a thing of beauty.

You look at countries like China, Finland, Canada, where they’re killing us on international benchmarks, absolutely destroying us on these tests. They are destroying us in terms of student performance in subjects like science and math. Even Poland is killing us on these tests. Poland. We have to stop it, folks. I know how to stop it. We are going to create schools for the 21st century economy. We are going to create schools like you’ve never seen. We are going to improve student test scores. I have a plan that parents and teachers and so many others think is the best plan they’ve seen. We’re going to improve learning for the middle class. Kids of middle class parents have been forgotten in our education debates. These kids were the predominant factor in making our country into a country that we all love so much and we’re all so proud of, but we’ve forgotten the middle class. So we are going to improve their schools and get more of them to college. Get more of them into good jobs.

We’re going to improve our schools. You look at all of those families that are moving out of their neighborhoods. When you see the Andersons moving from Detroit and you see so many other families now constantly moving. They used to move because the parents got better-paying jobs. Now they are moving to get away from failing schools. Doesn’t matter what part of the country they live in, even here in fabulous New York City. Ben understands the problem, fully understands. Families are leaving from places where they and their parents used to go to school into other communities looking for better. We shouldn’t let that happen.

We’ve lost high-quality schools. We’ve lost our good schools. Millions and millions of students, thousands and thousands of schools. We are losing so much. We can’t let that happen.

I tell the story often about a friend of mine with three children. He always intended to send them to the same community school that he and his wife attended in New York City. And recently, he and his wife decided to send their kids to a charter school. Charter schools value education so much that it is virtually impossible for the local public school to compete. I don’t want that to happen. That’s not going to happen. Every school should be like a charter school.

As parents, we have tremendous power over everybody because we are really the source of decisions. We have great, great power. The problem is we have politicians and teachers unions who truly, truly, truly don’t know what they’re doing. So we’re going to work very, very hard.

I’m so honored to be here today. It takes tremendous courage for parents to commit to changing their schools. Many of us have never done this before. We’ve focused on our own jobs and our own families. This is something we’ve never done, but we all felt we have to do it. When you look at the incompetence of the public schools and the state tests, where are spending billions of dollars and we get absolutely nothing. When you look at all of the problems our schools have and you look at our pool of good, committed teachers, which is really being depleted, rapidly depleted. We’re going to make our schools better and stronger than every before, and nobody, nobody, nobody is going to mess with us, folks, nobody.

Together, we are going to make American public education great again.

Parent empowerment. Stronger performance on international benchmarks. Standing up the the unions and those who lobby for the unions. It’s like many a speech we have heard before. And no mentions of walls at all …

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