Now we know who Donald Trump’s vice president will be: Mike Pence, governor of Indiana. And considering Pence’s political career, we can bet that he won’t be a champion for ensuring that all students, regardless of ZIP code, have access to an inspiring education that helps them reach their potential.
Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump’s judgment has been repeatedly – and rightfully – called into question. The fact that Pence would accept the billionaire bully’s invitation to join the ticket makes his judgment suspect, too.
Who is Mike Pence, other than someone who describes himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf”?
He’s a former six-term Congressman who has been Indiana’s governor since 2013. While in Congress he: opposed the Affordable Care Act; voted against expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program; voted against expanding grants for low-income college students; voted to make same-sex marriage illegal; opposed a prohibition on job discrimination based on sexual orientation; voted against additional support for those living in poverty; voted against increasing the minimum wage; supported building a fence on the Mexican border; voted in favor of turning in illegal immigrants who show up in emergency rooms.
Many know of the governor from his controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which gave any Indiana businesses the right to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. (The subsequent uproar caused Pence to sign a revised version of the law that explicitly bars a business from denying services to someone on the basis of categories that include sexual orientation and gender identity.) Here are some other highlights – or rather, lowlights – from Governor Pence’s tenure:
- He signed a law allowing adults to bring guns onto school grounds, in their vehicles. This takes away school authorities’ ability to create gun-safe zones.
- He created a new agency, the Center for Education & Career Innovation, to take authority away from the state’s Department of Education and Indiana’s elected state superintendent.
- He turned down an $80 million federal grant that was intended to fund pre-K education for low-income children.
- He has consistently supported vouchers, charter schools and school takeovers at the expense of public schools.
- His education budgets have barely kept pace with the rate of inflation, and now cover a growing number of corporate charter schools, as well as public schools.
- His budget cuts and tax cuts for the super-wealthy have drastically reduced funding for public services, including education. (And the education budget is now being stretched to support not only public schools, but additional charter schools and a growing voucher program.)
- He claims the state’s high school graduation rate has improved, but as a result of his misplaced priorities, the rate has actually dropped.
Despite the anti-public education, anti-public service positions Pence takes, he’s not known for the burn-down-the-house rhetoric that is Trump’s trademark. In fact, he says there’s no place for it in politics – or at least he used to. On “60 Minutes,” he couldn’t bring himself to criticize his running mate for name-calling, bullying and other crass behavior.
When asked a direct question about “the tone and negativity” of Trump’s campaign, Pence said: “I think this is a good man who’s been talking about the issues American people care about.”
The bottom line is this: American people care about public education and providing all our students with the opportunities they deserve. But Donald Trump and Mike Pence don’t share that value. We must join together to defeat their survival-of-the fittest agenda. Let’s do all we can to support Hillary Clinton, the one candidate in the race who’s made fighting for children her life’s work.