My opinion: My thoughts on Mike Pence and education

Activist, writer, and educators Julian Vasquez Heilig, who is also a guest writer here at Education Votes, has written a great piece that recently appeared in The Progressive Magazine. We’ve reprinted it below. Check it out! 

The electorate in 2016 will be the most diverse in history. A Pew research report released earlier this year found that nearly one-in-three eligible voters on Election Day will be Hispanic, Black, Asian, or another racial or ethnic minority.

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It’s no secret that Donald Trump is polling poorly among Latino, Asian American and African American voters. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News national poll found that 82 percent of registered Latino voters viewed the Republican presidential nominee unfavorably. The Wall Street Journal also reported that three quarters of Latinos plan to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the fall.

According to a survey of Asian American voters, only 19 percent of Asian Americans view Trump favorably. This problem is particularly acute with African American voters. In a Wall Street Journal/NBC/Marist poll, Donald Trump garnered zero percent support among African Americans in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Kevin Chavous, a former Obama 2008 advisor, ex-Washington, D.C. council member and current board member of American Federation for Children, has suggested picking Indiana Gov. Mike Pence could help in his standing with black and Latino voters, because of the governor’s support for charter schools.

“Bringing minority-supported issues into [the Trump] campaign could pose a real threat to Hillary,” Chavous stated in a press release. “Selecting Governor Pence as VP will bring a major education reform advocate to Trump’s administration. Pence is a major supporter of charter schools and has worked to expand them in Indiana.”

But a press release by the American Federation of Teachers took Pence to task for his support of education policies that sap dollars from public schools that primarily serve African American communities.

“Pence is an enemy of public education,” the statement said.

“His extreme obsession with vouchers and tax cuts for the rich [has] starved public schools in Indiana of funding, and helped to create a privatized system of winners and losers. Budgets signed by Pence shifted money away from racially and socio-economically isolated children—kids whose futures most deeply depend on a high-quality public education.”

As a member of the governing board of the Network for Public Education, a group that works to preserve and improve public schools across the nation, I personally had the opportunity to review Indiana’s education policies and data under Pence’s leadership. The results were not positive.

We examined stability in the teaching force, the use of high-stakes testing, class sizes, school integration, recognition of poverty, as well as the state’s use of charters, vouchers and other forms of privatization. On our Network for Public Education State Report Card, we gave Indiana an F for support of public education.

Pence has done virtually nothing on education to reverse course since receiving our failing grade. Thus, the idea that Pence will empower Trump to attract African American and Latino voters seems quite farfetched.


Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State University Sacramento. He blogs at Cloaking Inequity, consistently rated one of the top 50 education websites in the world by Teach100. Follow him on Twitter @ProfessorJVH.

Reader Comments

  1. I will not attempt to argue with other connectors here; that would be futile.
    But I will say that the interloping reformers, big business interests, and major testing corporations have unduly influenced public education for too long. Pence may very well have been chosen to satisfy the Koch brothers and other factions working to destroy our public schools.
    A vote for Trump/Pence will mean a death knell to our schools.
    Think before you vote, especially if you care about public education.

  2. To start with I’m not voting for Hillary she’s a liar she has proven to people that she is not worthy of keeping her word she is talking to Educators just to get votes she will not do what she says that she was planning to do. I wouldn’t vote for that and dog if I had to she is a wolf in sheep’s clothing she is corrupt. She wants to brainwash the children in a learning process so that they will be easier to control.

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