Trump Selects Two People for His Education Transition Team
According to a September 19, 2016, article written by Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week, according to “multiple sources,” Donald Trump has two individuals in line to lead his transition team in education if Trump becomes president.
The first is Williamson “Bill” Evers:
Evers served as an assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Education from 2007 to 2009, and also was an adviser to former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings in 2007 under President George W. Bush. …
Evers has an extensive background in academic standards. He was appointed by two former California governors, Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to serve on two separate standards commissions. And he’s been a big critic of the Common Core State Standards. In a 2015 op-ed for Education Week, for example, Evers said advocates of the common core were subverting a key aspect of the American civic system….
He’s also written about struggling schools, mathematics, and school funding, among other topics. Evers has served on a county board of education in California, where he’s also been on the board of directors for a charter school.
It should be noted that the Republican bandwagon of Common Core as a federal takeover came years after numerous Republican governors and state education chiefs signed on to an as-of-yet non-existent Common Core in 2009 in the wake of then-US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s dangling almost $400 million in front of those officials for a contest to create federally-funded, Common Core testing consortia. Moreover, the Common Core MOU (memorandum of understanding) clearly stated that the federal government would be all over Common Core except for directly funding it.
The second Ujifusa-noted Trump tap is Gerard Robinson:
Robinson served as Florida’s education commissioner from 2011 to 2012, and has also served as Virginia’s education secretary and as the president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. …
Robinson resigned as the Florida chief four years ago after a difficult year in office. He left the job not long after a controversy surrounding a precipitous drop in proficiency rates on the state writing exam—the state board responded by lowering the pass score on the test. Some also criticized the state education department’s handling of Florida’s A-F accountability system on Robinson’s watch, and how he handled English-language learners with respect to A-F school grades.
I wrote about Robinson in this 2013 post about Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change (Jeb Bush, who tried to hold onto Common Core as long as he could):
If reality breaks through and corporate reform is really embarrassed, well, one might have to “take one for the team.” That seems to be the case for former Florida “Chief” Gerard Robinson, who continues his time with Chiefs for Change as an emeritus member. Even though Robinson resigned “for family reasons,” his departure as Florida’s state education superintendent occurred amid national humiliation:
…Robinson’s tenure had been dogged in recent months by the public-relations pounding the department took after FCAT scores collapsed, followed a few months later by the school grades mix-up.
The Florida Board of Education was forced to lower passing grades for the statewide writing tests in May after the passing rate plunged from 81 percent to 27 percent for fourth graders and showed similar drops in eighth and 10th grades.
Then, in July, the department had to reissue grades for 213 elementary and middle schools and nine school districts as part of a “continuous review process.”
That came after the number of schools receiving an “A” had plummeted from 1,481 in 2011 to 1,124 this year. The new grades showed 1,240 schools getting the highest mark — a jump of 5 percentage points from the first cut of the numbers. [Emphasis added.] …
The article cited above seems to try just a little too hard to steer focus of Robinson’s departure away from the chaos that was Florida school and teacher performance under his watch to “he wants to be with his kids.” However, according to this Orlando Sentinel article, Robinson raised FCAT passing score thresholds in response to Bush’s own wishes:
Robinson’s decision [to raise FCAT passing scores] bucks the recommendations of Florida’s school superintendents as well as other public school and college experts asked to weigh in on the new scoring system.
But it meshes with the wishes of some State Board members, who said they worry the state’s high school standards are too weak, given how many graduates ended up in remedial classes in college. It also follows the suggestions of two politically influential groups, former Gov. Jeb Bush’s education foundation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
…Bush and the Chamber are so far dodging accountability for the FCAT Writing nightmare. It was they who served as Robinson’s backers on increasing FCAT stakes. Their silence on the three-day old story is telling as they’ve thrown Robinson under the bus. [Emphasis added.]
Back to 2016: Ujifusa notes that at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think tank, Robinson pushed for education “entrepreneurship”– in other words, the now-stale idea of breaking P-20 education (not just K-12 education) into businesses:
At AEI, Robinson focuses on school choice, regulatory issues, and the role of for-profit institutions in education, among other topics. In an August op-ed for U.S. News and World Report, Robinson argued for a new set of priorities to drive education, including entrepreneurship:
Entrepreneurship is the antithesis of the bureaucratic model that has been a hallmark of the “one best system” for more than 100 years. The time is ripe for more entrepreneurial ways to deliver teaching and learning in pre-K-20 education. This endeavor, however, requires a herculean shift in values. An entrepreneurial approach sees a problem as an opportunity; a bureaucratic approach sees an opportunity as a problem.
Trump, Evers, and Robinson.
There you have it.