Welcome to the political blog of Inklings News at Staples High School
This is the post excerpt.
Welcome to the political blog of Inklings News at Staples High School
By Fritz Schemel ’17
After the President’s address to Congress last week, pundits declared that Trump “became President in that moment” and had given the best speech of his political career.
These pundits are right. Trump’s speech was by far his most presidential, policy-oriented speech yet. He hit on many aspects of the House GOP’s “A Better Way” agenda, and won the night with a heart-wrenching tribute to a slain Navy SEAL and his widow.
However, before granting too much praise, Trump’s actions need to be examined.
It took the President just under a week to get off-message yet again, this time falsely accusing former President Obama of wiretapping him. This off-message agenda accomplishes nothing for conservatives that want to see real action. For the last few days, instead of focusing on the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, which was released Monday night, Trump has put the media in a frenzy over the wiretapping accusations.
Trump’s tone can improve, and he can become more presidential. But first, he must stay consistent with his messaging. Not just for an hour long speech, but for his entire four year presidency. Without consistent messaging, Trump’s agenda has no chance.
And while his speech was presidential and hit on many agenda items Republicans are focused on, there’s no indication that any of his policies are actually going to be conservative. In the same speech that he talked about repealing and replacing Obamacare, Trump spoke about a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. Speaker Paul Ryan, who campaigned with Mitt Romney in 2012 on reforming budget problems, gave Trump’s trillion dollar plan a standing ovation.
Therein lies the problem. His agenda itself needs to be seriously considered by Republicans. Sure, Trump won as a Republican, but in a mix between Ivanka-influenced liberalism and Bannon-influenced nationalism, there’s not much room left for conservatism.
If Republicans and the conservative movement want any chance in the post-Trump days, they ought to consider Trump’s policies, not just the presidential rhetoric he displayed for an hour in front of Congress, before getting side-tracked yet again on his Twitter account.
By Sophie Driscoll ’19
Donald Trump and his cabinet proved just how important African American History Month continues to be today. On Feb. 1, the president rambled on about Martin Luther King Jr, Frederick Douglass and, not surprisingly, himself.
It would have been appropriate for Trump to begin the listening session at the White House by honoring the many prominent African Americans in history. However, he drove the meeting in a different direction.
“Last month, we celebrated the life of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., whose incredible example is unique in American history,” Trump said, employing a fairly meaningless adjective. This superficial comment was not truly aimed to honor King’s accomplishments; it was merely a segue into a long digression about Trump’s relationship with the media.
“You read all about Dr. Martin Luther King a week ago when somebody said I took the statue out of my office,” he said. “It turned out that that was fake news. Fake news. The statue is cherished, it’s one of the favorite things in the—and we have some good ones.”
Trump went on to directly address his disapproval of CNN, stating, “I don’t like watching fake news.” However, he was sure to promote the notoriously conservative Fox News, noting, “Fox has treated me very nice. Wherever Fox is, thank you.”
This accusation against CNN is especially interesting coming from a man who posted the link to an actual fake news story on his Facebook page the next day.
After rambling about the media, Trump transitioned into some very strange comments about Douglass, the former slave, abolitionist, social reformer and politician who died in 1895.
“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I noticed,” Trump said.
His use of the present tense indicates that he erroneously thinks Douglass is still alive.
Trump’s cabinet seem equally in-need of a history lesson. At the daily briefing that afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer seemed caught off-guard when asked to clarify Trump’s statement.
“I think he wants to highlight the contributions that he has made,” Spicer said. “And I think through a lot of the actions and statements that he’s going to make, I think the contributions of Frederick Douglass will become more and more.”
Spicer’s comment made it sound as though he too is unsure of Douglass’ significant contributions to American history. Unfortunately, Douglass will not be making “more and more” future “actions and statements,” as he has been dead for 122 years.
Spicer wasn’t the only member of Trump’s cabinet who made surprising statements regarding African American History Month. In recognition of the month, Vice President Mike Pence tweeted his praise of a white man.
“As #BlackHistoryMonth begins, we remember when Pres. Lincoln submitted the 13th Amendment, ending slavery, to the states #NationalFreedomDay,” Pence wrote.
Of course, I admire and respect former president Abraham Lincoln and his contributions to ending slavery, but in recognition of African American History Month, Pence should have focused his praise on African Americans. It was Douglass, for example, who played a pivotal role in convincing Lincoln to end slavery.
The Trump administration appears to lack genuine respect for and knowledge of African American history. As evidenced by Trump and his administration’s inappropriate remarks on Wednesday, African American History Month is as important as ever. We must continue to affirm, recognize and celebrate the role of African Americans in American history, even if our president does not.
Jackie Sussman ’17
On June 16, 1903, Henry Ford created the Ford Motor Company. Soon thereafter, Ford produced the Model T, which sold by the millions. The Industrial Revolution, characterized by materialism and mass-production, was in full swing.
At the core of this growth and productivity of the American economy was a ‘factory’ mentality. Uniformity, efficiency and most importantly, money. As a staunch libertarian objectivist, I love those words — those words mean business is booming.
But apply the concepts of uniformity, efficiency, and money to pre-collegiate public education and you get students who are trained alike. Who think alike. Who are alike. Any semblance of creativity and nuance is squeezed out at the first opportunity, replaced by a homogenous and artificial sense of being.
Welcome to the American education system.
If you think I’m kidding or exaggerating, think again. The current K-12 public school system “largely still adheres to the century-old, industrial-age factory model of education,” former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated in 2010. It’s still the case today.
What do I mean by a “factory model of education?” Reflect on what it’s like to be at Staples right now.
You sit in desks arranged linearly. You are graded, like beef, on a letter scale from “A” to “F.” You are clustered together in groups of approximately twenty students, each with different learning abilities and styles, and taught by one teacher. Your curriculum is created by education policy. You hear a bell which signifies the end of a day or class. You are precluded the opportunity to pursue interests at an individualized pace, which according to the Washington Post, educational psychologists have argued that “student curiosity and an appropriate level of challenge are key drivers in the learning process.”
Yet most transparently, schools produce a uniform product using tools like standardized tests, which reward only one aspect of human intelligence: test-taking abilities. Even Frederick J. Kelly, the man who invented standardized tests, stated: “These tests are too crude to be used and should be abandoned.”
I’m not the first one to point out that this is a problem. Over 40 years ago, Alvin Toffler in his 1970 book Future Shock stated: “The most criticized features of education today — the regimentation, lack of individualization … — are precisely those that made mass public education so effective an instrument of adaptation for its place and time.” Toffler is right. In 1843, Horace Mann (dubbed the Father of the Common School Movement) decided to copy a Prussian education system in order to “adequately prepare American youth for 20th century industrialized economy,” the Atlantic reported.
We students are the Model T. We are mass-produced, reliably uniform and created by a rigid and dehumanizing learning factory. Yet unlike cars, which have become incredibly technologically advanced and energy-efficient thanks to Elon Musk, we students are still a century-old model.
That needs to change. And the solution is technology. But, as Joel Rose wrote in the Atlantic, not just ensuring that teachers integrate technology into how they teach. “Our focus should primarily be to design new classroom models that take advantage of what these tools can do,” Rose said. As a high school senior, I cannot produce concrete specifics as to what these models should look like. Those are for the experts to create.
Doug Tuthill, a lifelong educator and former teachers’ union president, wrote an alternative solution for these models in Education Week. It concerns school choice, an education policy that favors providing children and their families alternative to publicly funded schools, to which students are usually assigned based on their family residence. Tuthill wrote: “As choice expands, teachers will see more opportunities to create and/or work in educational models that hew to their vision and values, maximize their expertise, and result in better outcomes for students,” Tuthill said. President-elect Donald Trump plans to implement this policy.
All in all, education reform needs to occur. Whether it is Trump’s way or others, uniformity, efficiency and money cannot be the priorities in 21st century education.
By Andrew Vester ’17
Earlier this week, Vice President Joe Biden hinted that he’d run for president in 2020 in an almost comedic exchange with a reporter (if you want to read the text, click here). After eight successful years in the White House with Barack Obama and 36 years as a senator from Delaware, it’s time for Biden, or Uncle Joe as he’s colloquially referred to, to call it a career.
He has accomplished some great things over his time as an elected official. He authored the Violence Against Women Act, and chaired several Senate committees, such as the Judiciary Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee.
And besides his time in the Senate, Biden was a truly great Vice-President. His position meant that he was responsible for overseeing the proceedings in the Senate, and his background prepared him perfectly for this. But more went into his being a great VP than that. For the entire eight years of Obama’s presidency, Biden was involved in making high-level decisions with the president, something that hasn’t necessarily been the case with past administrations (just look at the second term of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney).
Even though Biden has accomplished all this, there’s nowhere left for him to go. To put it one way, his past attempts at the presidency have been unsuccessful, and gaffes follow him everywhere he goes. His first run was ended by allegations of plagiarism, and his second attempt – in 2008 – saw him drop out after placing fifth out of eight candidates in the Iowa Caucuses, receiving only 23 votes. Another run wouldn’t produce better results.
On top of this, the politics of today are nothing like the politics of even eight years when he last ran. This past presidential election was one of the most despicable in the nation’s history, and with Trump up for reelection in four years, it’s not looking like it will be any different. The politics of today are not the politics that Biden knows, and certainly not one that he’d fit into.
Although Biden seems like he still has plenty in him to run in four years, he shouldn’t. And if he doesn’t want to relinquish his political power, he can keep it in how he acts in his post-Vice Presidential years. Every great period has to come to an end. It’s time for Joe to ride off into the sunset.
By Sophie Driscoll ’19, Opinions Editor
A new rule issued by the Texas state government seeks to restrict abortion rights.
Beginning Dec. 19, fetal remains from any abortion performed in a hospital or clinic in the state of Texas must be buried, entombed or cremated. Currently, fetal remains are disposed of in a sanitary landfill like other forms of biological medical waste.
The rule was proposed in July by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a notoriously conservative, anti-choice Republican. In a fundraising email advertising his anti-choice “LIFE Initiative,” Abbott expressed his goal of “giving rights to the unborn” and “turn the tides against” abortion.
It should be noted that the rule has no medical benefit. Its only purpose is to deter women from exercising their right to choose whether or not to give birth by implying that exercising the right to an abortion is the equivalent of ending a person’s life. In reality, women who chose to terminate a pregnancy are not committing a moral wrong, and they should not be treated as though they are. Women do not make the decision to terminate a pregnancy lightly; the choice to do so is never easy. Undergoing an abortion often results in both mental and physical anguish, and it is wrong to add to the stress and shame that these patients are most likely already feeling.
In addition to stigmatizing Texans who receive abortions, the rule creates an unnecessary financial burden for health care facilities, who will now be held responsible for having the fetal remains cremated or buried. The Texas Medical Association and the Texas Hospital Association, which have opposed the rule, stated that this task can cost several thousands of dollars per case. This is not an effective use of money. Health care facilities should not be forced to waste money on measures that do not benefit patients.
It is extremely hypocritical that Republicans such as Abbott and the Texas state legislators who championed this bill are extremely vocal in expressing the belief that government should not infringe upon individual freedoms, but have urged issuance of a rule that infringes upon a woman’s constitutional right to privacy. Roe v. Wade (1973) established that women have the right to make their own personal medical decisions, including the decision to have an abortion without interference from politicians. Therefore, the rule is unconstitutional and should be rescinded. If Republicans truly support small government, they should be fighting against government interference in the medical decisions of women.
We must eradicate the misogyny that is still so clearly prevalent in our nation and break down the barriers that prevent women from receiving the reproductive care they deserve.
Anna Rhoads ’18
The president elect, Donald Trump, has in the past come out supporting very controversial and extreme ideas. Whether it was a ban on all Muslim immigrants or sending his opposing candidate to prison, he has not been shy with his radical views. However, after snagging the presidency and appearing in his first post-election interview, his ideas seem to have taken a shift. On Nov. 13, Lesley Stahl interviewed Trump on “60 Minutes” and found that his plans were much less extreme than before.
One very controversial plan that Trump had was to build the wall. In June, 2015 during his candidacy announcement speech Trump stated, “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” Not only was the wall itself an immoral idea but his plan to make Mexico pay for it was even more radical and frightening. Considering that the country is made up of immigrants from various generations and how we pride ourself in being tolerant and open to all ethnicities the wall just went against our principles. However, when Trump was asked if he would really build this wall during the interview, Trump said he would settle for a fence along with a wall. Not only is this different from what he said before but it also shows his willingness to listen to others, in this case the GOP lawmakers who proposed the plan. Although a fence is not ideal it is one step closer to the principles we pride ourselves in.
Another plan he shifted gears on was dealing with immigrants. Before the election results, the Washington Post claimed “Trump wants to deport everyone currently living in the US illegally, a number the Pew Research Center estimated to be above 11 million last year.” But during his interview with Stahl, Trump stated that “what we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate.” Going from a plan to kick out all immigrants to one that focuses on criminals is way overdue. Nonetheless, I’m thankful he is is softening his ideas for the sake of all innocent and righteous immigrants.
Lastly, it was well known that Trump had plans on sending his opponent Hillary Clinton to ether prison or another trial. This was first brought out during their town-hall debate when Clinton said, “You know it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in this country” and Trump intervened by saying “Because you’d be in jail.” Although Trump made it clear he supported her being sent to prison or back on trial, during his interview with Stahl he made it seem like this was way out of the picture. He said things like “Hillary called and it was a lovely call” and “She is very strong and very smart.” Trump seemed to hold tremendous respect for Clinton during the interview, something he lacked during the campaign. Later on in the interview when asked if he would consider having a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton over her emails or plan on putting her in jail Trump responded with “I don’t want to hurt them. They’re, they’re good people. I don’t want to hurt them. And I will give you a very, very good and definitive answer the next time we do 60 Minutes together.” Although the president elect did not give us a sure answer it is clear that his opinions of Clinton have greatly changed and that after winning he may back off of his plans against her. Sending someone who has already spent time going through the justice system is a big deal, but his more recent actions show him easing on this specific plan.
These are far from the only examples of Trump’s change in plans and along with the rest, they can give us good insight on what Trump’s presidency will be like. It seems that after winning Trump has softened some of his more extreme plans and was possibly presenting himself as more radical for the sake of his campaign. Although only time will tell, the “60 Minute” interview with Trump presented a much more peaceful and realistic president-elect.