An Open Letter to President Trump

I don’t know how to speak with a president … but I can speak well enough with any father.

So, let us speak as fathers … and of the dreams we dream for our own children.

Then we should imagine that we are dreaming for all sorts of children … because that is your new job … and that was my old job for a long, long while.

I should say straight away that my own children are grown and flown … like most of yours. But, as you know, families grow … and new stars join the troupe and steal the spotlight. Like your Barron… and my young Aidan.

I’ve seen you lose yourself in that boy’s face. I have. It’s the sort of thing I pay attention to because … because I do the same. All the time. That “circle of life” stuff gets extra-real in people our age. And finally … we learn to pay attention to what really matters. The sweet, small stuff … like a child’s face.

You are a busy man. I am not so busy at all.

You are the president of a great country … and I am the chief of a very small tribe. You were once a business man … and I was once a history teacher.

And what busies you hardly busies me.

My responsibilities are now sweet and simple … I only have to be on time for baseball games and perhaps explain old civilizations now and then.

You have only to worry about a country … and perhaps the rest of the world.

See? We do have things in common. So … now we can talk.

Children teach us to keep our promises. Nothing winces a father more than the face of a disappointed child. Break a promise … break a heart. I’ve sinned that sin … I’m sure you have, too.

And now … now everything about your life is suddenly larger than ever before. Your challenges. Your promises. And perhaps even your disappointments.

But for a moment, let’s shrink your world so it looks more like mine … and the folks who placed their hopes and dreams in you. The people who believed your promises. Not-so-famous people … except to the children who look up to them, and hang on their every promise.

Childhood is a quick moment. It’s the maker of first memories … and we make big deals of firsts. First words. First steps. First everything.

We should never forget that school is life’s first great adventure. That break-free moment that puts the first crack in every parent’s heart. That anxious adios … even if it lasts for just a few hours.

We fanny-pat them and cup their tiny faces for one last boost … and send them off to the first brave solo-moment of their brand new lives.

We are both joyed and jittered by this daring episode.

But for many parents … things are not as we remember.

Schools have been nightmared. Children guinea-pigged … poisoned by imposter-reformers and their pedagogical idiocy.

So many seem intent on reinventing childhood … swapping out sandboxes and monkey bars for hypnotizing iPads and abusive testing circumstances. Many classroom reforms are simply ludicrous … and harming.

There’s so much wrong with this reform, it’s a miracle schools haven’t been pitchforked by parent-mobs.

They’re calling out school leaders for odd-ball curriculum changes. Even demanding legislation for … are you ready, Mr. President? … for recess. For play time. For six year olds.

It’s that sick, sir.

They’re frustrated by politicians-turned-Socrates who dismiss their concerns … and permit creepy-freaky social engineers to bend the lives of their children.

Master-teachers … once the most trusted regents of our children … have been exiled to the edges of every reform discussion. Their common sense expertise suddenly dismissed as Dark Age know-how.

These spring months turn children into school-loathing messes because fraudy-gurus insist that “grit and rigor” are imperative antidotes to wasteful childhoods of discovery and play.

These hoaxers demand that hyper-dramatized assessments be homaged as the new tools of educational excellence. Real-deal teachers are threatened into silent compliance. And so … hundreds of thousands of enraged parents are refusing abusive testing in state after state … Georgia … Texas … New York … Michigan … Florida.

The outrage is exploding.

This is what happens when schools are hijacked by an interfering government and bungling bureaucrats.

It’s what happens when disconnected theoreticians pretend to understand children … and dare to claim parental regency over them.

It’s what happens when self-anointed wizards decided that only government can wrench us out of the educational Middle Ages … and make us as advantaged as … as Sweden. And Singapore. Or Switzerland.

And caught in this cyclone of nonsense are small people. Young children … like your Barron … and my Aidan. But not as well protected.

So … millions of innocents are anguished … and their parents agonized.

Never has there been a more toxic reform effort than Common Core … and all that churns around it. It is a harmful failure. A disturbing, national mess.

Mothers and fathers across America witnessed your promise to end Common Core … and they signed that contract in the ballot booth.

Never was the “art of the deal” so serious for so many.

They asked for their schools back … and for childhood to be restored.

They asked that childhood education be balanced again … in challenge and joy … so they, too, can dream dreams for their children.

So they signed on the dotted line.

Now you are the president of great people. And I am still the chief of a small tribe.

And one day, Barron and Aidan will read of this … and know if we both kept our promise.

Let’s not disappoint anyone.

One thought on “An Open Letter to President Trump

  1. Denis- a brilliant take on the state of public education in our country and an insightful challenge to our President! Let’s continue to pray for the man who took on the great challenge to “Make America Great Again.”

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