Charter Schools and Trump

Probably the biggest recent cabinet appointment has been to put a woman named DeVos in charge of education policy.  The reason for that is she’s an advocate for charter schools, something people on the left are reflexively against.  I think on the whole, charter schools probably aren’t a great idea, but I support her in this role.

One of the reasons I’m somewhat optimistic about Trump’s presidency is that he represents an opportunity for new ideas within the republican party.  For most of my adult lifetime, the republican party has been the party of no.  They’ve had almost no new ideas, and the few they did have were demonstrably bad.  With Trump, given his complete lack of experience and seemingly unending ability to change his mind, there is real chance for new conservative ideas to become policy, something I truly hope will happen.

I understand the arguments for and against charter schools.  The argument for is that public schools are failing in many ways, so opening the door for other education experiments might lead to better outcomes.  The arguments against is that having more public money for charter schools can only mean less money for public schools, and too little money is their primary problem.  Both arguments make sense to me.   I come down on the side against charter schools, but anyone who takes a serious look at education has to acknowledge there is room for improvement.  If there is a possibility to do so, we should try it.  And there are other opportunities for new ideas to bubble to the top.

One thing Trump campaigned on was reducing regulation.  That’s an old conservative idea that has predictable consequences.  More profits for private industry and an increase in economic activity, and fewer protections for employees and the public.  But another thing Trump campaigned on was bring manufacturing jobs back, such as Apple making iPhones in the US.  I recall seeing one estimate that making iPhones here would be logistically impossible, and even if it could be done it would double the price of the iPhone.  It makes no business sense, even with fewer regulations.  So the only way it will happen is if there are laws put in place forcing Apple to do so.  Maybe such laws are good ideas, maybe not.  But it is a new idea, and I welcome the opportunity for new ideas to be given a chance.


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