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Arnold O. Beckman High School

Opinion: A jaded student’s response to Trump Jr.

Our media argues that education is not something to be tampered with for the sake of momentary crowd support at the cost of criticizing basic human rights. Journalists and intellectuals alike conclude that schooling, specifically teachers, are the drivers of knowledge and one of the many cornerstones to our society. Donald Trump Jr. arguing that “loser teachers” cannot think for themselves and, therefore, naturally swing left was a bone-chilling moment for our nation for this central reason. The tactic of turning the country against its schools is reminiscent of authoritarian and extremist tactics, making this event that more shocking: it happened in the center of our democracy.

Initially, I believed that there was some,  although sparing ,  validity to what Donald Trump Jr. was arguing. I’m in high school, and I have never had a conservative teacher or professor — all of them are liberal. The fact that many teachers tend to favor the left side is not totally invalid based solely on my personal empirics. However, making that conclusion about all teachers based on one life experience is outrageous and illogical. It’s impossible to argue against Trump Jr.’s comment because he has not provided hard proof that teachers, in fact, are mostly liberal.

This brings me to the data: A national survey conducted by Education Week Research Center showed that across all K-12 teachers, 41 percent were Democrats, 30 independent, and 21 percent Republicans. On the other hand, an Economic Journal study writes that liberal professors outnumber conservative ones 12 to one. There are clearly mixed numbers on this topic, and the percentages are weak on one study yet strong on the other. Hence, due to this mixture, I will not attempt to argue for or against Trump Jr.’s comment using solely fact.

Therefore, let us assume that his conclusion is true: all teachers are out to “sell you socialism.” Trump Jr. condemns this fact, stating that educators cannot think for themselves and, alternatively, indoctrinate. There are two things blatantly wrong with this. One, a person cannot indoctrinate without first considering what information they are choosing to radically proselytize. Teachers not thinking for themselves is logically impossible, as a person cannot teach, let alone propagandize, a view that they have not thought about.

Secondly, teachers expressing political views in their lessons violates no part of the Constitution, the law, or other bases of our nation. The right side would have no issue with teachers “indoctrinating” politics if the majority of them were conservative. Both sides of the political spectrum are at rather disappointing states at the current moment, and they could use the boost that comes with support through education. In short, one has no grounds to condemn something that would benefit him if it worked in his favor. It is impossible to assume Trump Jr.’s conclusion as true because it is contradictory on both logical and personal fronts.

To move into the grounds of solely opinion: Donald Trump Jr. once said, “Invest in what you understand, what’s foreseeably going to offer real value and returns, not necessarily what’s trendy.” He was speaking in a financial context, but the sentiment is applicable here. Trump Jr. does not understand what it means to be an educator today, so he should not invest his time in trying to crucify them. The people who staff our schools across our nation are who lead us to the “real returns” in life. They are the shepherds of our young population and the spearheads of learning.

It’s common to vehemently hate them, complain about their classes, or even accuse them of radical propagandizing. However, Trump Jr. does that  —  we do that  —  because we do not understand the intrinsic value of education in our lifetimes. Agreeing with his speech is doing what is trendy while casting aside the best value life can lead us to: education.

Teachers play different roles in my life, whether as heroes, villains, or neutral information-givers. Without teachers, though, students like myself would not know how to calculate our salaries when we get our first jobs. We would be clueless about the world around us, inept in how to speak in front of an audience, unable to read effectively. I would not have the linguistic nor dexterous abilities necessary to type this essay.

Everything comes with ramifications, and being a conservative student has its equal share of consequences as does being a liberal one. Teachers, citizens, and our electorate as a whole always have something to say, and we should do them the honor of listening to them. Likewise, we should grant Donald Trump Jr. the same privilege. What we do as a response is wholly up to us. However: we can be autonomous without shaking our fists at one political identity or the other. Alas, it seems that our country, our democracy, has come to that.