Clinton, Trump backgrounds offer insight into their education beliefs


by Félix Pérez; photo by Diego Cambiaso

Yesterday’s primary in Washington, D.C., officially brings to a close the presidential primary season. As Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump compete over the next five months, educators, parents, students and pro-public education voters will look to see what proposals the two presumptive nominees put forward.

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And while the candidates’ ideas on what they would do in office are a useful measure, their backgrounds also offer telling insights.

Clinton, a former U.S. Senator and First Lady, has an extensive record that allows voters to draw conclusions. Trump, on the other hand, because of his aversion to details and because he has never held elected office, is harder to pin down.

While a 24-year-old law school student working for the Children’s Defense Fund, Clinton went undercover in the deep South to gather information on academies set up to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling banning school segregation. Another project Clinton undertook at the Children’s Defense Fund was in New Bedford, Mass., where she gathered testimonials from families at their homes about the lack of schooling for their children with disabilities. The information contributed to the passage of a federal law, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, that requires students with disabilities receive a quality education.

Trump_&_Clinton Gage SkidmoreAs First Lady of Arkansas, Clinton implemented a program called Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, or HIPPY, which now serves 15,000 families in 21 states. HIPPY provides parents books, educational materials and weekly home visits to coach them on how to get their children ready for school by strengthening their children’s cognitive and early literacy skills, and social, emotional and physical development.

Later, Clinton, as First Lady of the United States, played a central role in the creation and passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, expanding health care to millions of children.

“When I put together all the influences on me and what I really cared about, it was to be a champion and advocate for kids. That’s why I helped create the Children’s Health Insurance Program,” sad Clinton

Said the late-U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, who shepherded the law through Congress:

The children’s health program wouldn’t be in existence today if we didn’t have Hillary pushing for it from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Trump’s lone foray into education, Trump University, has been the target of three high profile legal challenges. In one, Trump is being sued by the New York Attorney General for allegedly defrauding thousands of students who, according to the lawsuit, spent as much as $35,000 to learn from unqualified instructors using deceptive practices in the now-defunct real estate seminar operation.

At the time Trump introduced his university in 2005, he said it was less about profits than a way to build a “legacy as an educator.” He elaborated, “If I had a choice of making lots of money or imparting lots of knowledge, I think I’d be as happy to impart knowledge as to make money.”

Said Eric Schneiderman, the NY attorney general:

If you look at the facts of this case, this shows someone who was absolutely shameless in his willingness to lie to people, to say whatever it took to induce them into his phony seminars. It was shameless. It was heartless.

Trump is no fan of teacher-led unions. “Our public schools have grown up in a competition-free zone, surrounded by a very high union wall,” he wrote in his book “The America We Deserve” when he ran for president in 2000. In that same book, Trump said, “Schools are crime-ridden and they don’t teach.”

Unlike Clinton, Trump supports vouchers, which divert essential funding from public schools to private schools that choose which students to accept. In “The America We Deserve,” he stated, “We’ve got to bring on the competition — open the schoolhouse doors and let parents choose the best school for their children. Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships.”

Education voters will have much information to sift through as the general election rolls forward. But as the candidates’ records and backgrounds show, there is already much to learn about their central beliefs relating to education.

Reader Comments

  1. Dear Mr. Cowboy and other Trump supporters, our daughter just completed the 8th grade and knows more now about how our government works than most adults, thanks to a highly qualified US History teacher. She also had excellent math, English and science teachers, all highly qualified and paid a living wage thanks to a teachers union. If you support charter schools, I implore you to look closely at what really goes on in a charter school, visit one of their board meetings and ask some questions about curriculum, teachers qualifications and evaluations, and most importantly – where does all that money go that the charter (aka voucher program) is draining from their neighborhood public schools? At a local charter in the county just south of us, a board member was removed for asking too many financial questions…as it turns out, he was the only person on the board with a business background and the only one not related to the school’s director! All across the country charter schools are being exposed as money pits that provide a sham of a real education. The way I see it as a parent, is that the teacher’s unions are not the problem here, it seems they are our only hope in more ways than one.

  2. Unfortunately, we tend to see our politicians in “black and white,” bringing up points that have nothing whatsoever to do with their qualifications for office. People don’t like Hillary Clinton, and she has made mistakes–what politician hasn’t–but Trump subscribes to the theory that saying outrageous things often enough, loudly enough, and nastily enough will cause people to believe him. Apparently, that’s true. He is a narcissist who does nothing and says nothing that does not benefit himself. He has billions, two beautiful ex-wives, a beautiful present wife, several bankruptcies, but the crown jewel–the presidency–is the one thing that he hasn’t got. If he had any foreign policy ideas, any skill at conflict resolution, any ability to get along with others unless they fawn over him, I might consider him. Unfortunately, he makes outrageous claims, and when they are disproved, he doesn’t address any of them, but just moves on. Hillary, at least, has experience, and a long history of working for various causes, including education. As a long time teacher myself and the daughter of a long time teacher, I know all about the fluctuations in education. None of the innovations that were/are meant to revolutionize education are still around. The bottom line is that education is a three legged stool (according to a former principal); one leg is parents who establish respect for education in the home, students who attend regularly and do the work, and teachers who absolutely know their stuff and form relationships with their students. Smaller classes, better pay, and fewer “targets and objectives” would help, too.

    1. Hillary has done far more than make mistakes. She violated Title 18 USC, section 17 I believe. And it is not just a matter of intent. She lied to Federal investigators, violated her non-disclosure agreement and on and on. While Mr. Trump is no saint admittedly, but neither is he a known criminal.

    2. I’m also a public school educator, and I agree with much of this, but in view of all the outrageous things Trump has said or done, I would NEVER consider voting for him! I’m sticking with Hillary, who has spent decades in support what’s best for our citizens.

  3. One of these days those supporting Clinton will realize she is not only unqualified to lead this nation, she is a liar, cheat, and bigot. Many of the same name she calls others. I won’t even go into her business ventures (Whitewater) and phony marriage. Suffice to say she is not a leader, she is a divider, a bully and an attention seeker. Hillary is a con artist. You think she supports public schools? Where did Chelsea go to school? DC public schools? Nope, a high-priced, exclusive school for the rich. Neither Clinton or Trump is a suitable candidate. There’s a lot of blame to go around, and a part of that is the lousy education provided to people. They don’t know much about the constitution, balance of powers, American history or anything else. Thanks, NEA for all you did to make Americans as dumb as rocks.

    1. It is a shame that you have such a low opinion of our schools. When did you last sit in a classroom full of students? If you did was it kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, or…? Did you watch the teacher work with the students? Did you see the teacher work endless hours before, during, and after the students left? Your job, does it require endless hours of preparation to work with your fellow workers? My guess to these and other questions you are like the proverbial arm chair quarterback where just because you can watch the game you know what’s best for the game.
      If your schools are do bad than do something about it. Get involved by volunteering at the schools, vote for the schools, run for a school board seat, do anything other than just complaining about them. Work to make them better in the areas you see that they need fixing. They are desperate for volunteers to fill in the spaces left open because of the budget cut backs that the different state legislatures have created.
      Your personal opinions on the quality of our presidential candidates demonstrate again your arm chair outlook on life. If you think you can do better than they then jump in and get involved with a candidate that you think will be better or has beliefs similar to your own.
      Finally your opinion of where our president places there children is a personal one. If you have had children than the decision to place them in a private or public school is a personal one based on the needs of the child as YOU see it. That thought behind this decision has many factors that influence the decision. when you have walked in their shoes I can say you have personal experience to base your opinion on but if you haven’t than I suggest that you focus on your own life and get involved so you have personal experience to base your opinions on, not just basing it on the opinions of others, who like you are arm chair quarterbacks. In math1+1=2 but in politics people try to make 1+1=3. Which person are you?

    2. Chelsea went to a private school because she was the daughter of a president and her safety would have been at risk if she attended a public school. She had secret service agents with her in school. They posed less of a distraction in a private school than in a public school.

      I teach government Mr. Cowboy, and what you are saying is false. Students leave my class with a solid knowledge of the issues. It is too bad that budget cuts forced our district to cut the course from two semesters to one semester. You get what you pay for, Mr. Cowboy. In Texas you don’t pay much, and you don’t get much.

    3. Imagine, 300 million people, and ‘these’ two are the candidates. Of the two, Hillabeast is the liar, weaseling, basher of women, thief, and sleaze. How did she and Billy boy, ‘I can’t keep it in my pants’ guy, go from $500 thousand in the red to a worth oh $150 MILLION in a decade?

    4. Dear AZ
      Reading your comments…dumb as a rock comes to mind…great teachers cannot reach everyone.
      However, I am truly sorry for your luck.
      I tend to go by what footprints a person leaves upon the Earth…. anyone who is not as ‘dumb as a rock’ can easily check the facts and the footprints of these two politicians. But if ones get ideas from one slanted perspective/source then… that is what they get… a slanted opinion. Not facts.
      Yes, everyone makes mistakes but as I said when i check the facts behind the footprints of Trump they were not in support of anyone else but his own selfish choices. Hilary’s footprints, if you actually would read about those footprints….well enough said.
      In light of everything… Hilary is the Pilot I would choose, because she actually has Pilot’s license, thousands of hard earned hours to prepare for what lies ahead and she can stand up to against severe harsh weather, such as that from leaders of other countries without making matters worse.
      Trump, well an automobile driver license isn’t enough for me to want to fly on that plane. He has no hours even flying a remote controlled plane and as far as weathering what lies ahead…Verbal abuse of those who disagree with him?…Well let us look over the past few months on the campaign trail….and I say do not even let him have the keys to the go-cart. (Analogy borrowed from someone else, give them credit).

      We choose to disagree….what makes this country work, if we let it.

      PS…Rethink the Cowboy, those boots are bit large.

      1. Her footprints are quite distinct and easily followed. Her CV contains many jobs, accompanied by nothing but bad results. That is why she and Bill are no longer permitted to practice law. She is a criminal who has yet to be prosecuted. I pray that day comes shortly after Mr. Trump is elected.

  4. But she loves Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country. Supporting the killing of citizens who are future students trumps any good she may have done.
    The recent attempt in two states to indict David Daleiden, a young investigative reporter who exposed the business of selling fetal parts by her favorite organization and supporter Planned Parenthood is integral to my decision not to vote for her.

    1. Most of the services provided by Planned Parenthood are health services (breast exams, PAP smears, etc.)for women who can’t afford them, especially in the Bible Belt states that refused to fully participate in the Affordable Care Act, aka Obama Care.

    2. It is astonishing to me how blind purported educators are supposed to be when refuse to see what is really going on.

  5. What can you say to bigotry? They live in a different reality that is self serving, biased and egotistical.

    1. I would have to disagree. I would not call what the Clintons live any sort of reality. For Billy Bumpkin, it’s a world of Viagra laced episodes and for Billary, a world of narcissism, fueled by her thinking she is a woman of class.

  6. One of these days those supporting Trump will realize he is not only unqualified to lead this nation, he is a liar, cheat, bigot and racist. Many of the same names he calls others. I won’t even go into his failed business ventures, 3 marriages or 4 bankruptcy’s, suffice to say he is not a leader, he is a divider. a bully and an attention seeker who when 49+ individuals were killed in Orlando never once offered concern or condolences to those who lost a loved one. What did he do?, he took credit for calling the act one of a terrorist and how he was going to keep them from entering the United States. News flash, the killer was home grown like others who have taken multiple lives.

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