The Trump U. Treatment. By Emily Talmage


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Save Maine Schools Helping You Navigate Next-Gen Ed Reform from the Great State of Maine

First: this is not a defense of Donald Trump or his now infamous Trump University.  Trump University was probably a scam (did anyone really think it wasn’t going to be?), and we deserve to know about it.

But hang on a second.

If a fraud like this is concerning enough to make headline news, why isn’t the media reporting on education scams that are happening everywhere?

Let’s be real: when it comes to education policy, taxpayers across the country are getting the same treatment Trump University gave its clients, but without the headlines.

Here’s one example:

Trump University used a playbook that encouraged recruiters to play on emotions. (“Don’t ask people what they think about something you’ve said. Instead, always ask them how they feel about it. People buy emotionally and justify it logically.”).

And that, of course, is exactly what the esteemed FrameWorks Institute has more than likely been doing to you.

With sophisticated market research techniques, FrameWorks taps into people’s beliefs about education, then manipulates those feelings in order to get you to accept ideas like Common Core and competency-based education. (When it comes to selling fraudulent ideas, “frames always matter more than facts.”)

It also seems that Trump University taught its recruiters how to exploit aspirations. You know, sort of like the claims we heard about how Common Core would get our kids college and career ready, or how one-to-one iPad initiatives would bring us, at last, into the twenty-first century, or how certain reforms would bring us the jobs we’ve been looking for – like this petition signed by corporate executives and governors across the country calling for an expansion of computer science with the outright lie that there are currently 500,000 open computing jobs in this country. (Over ten years, therewill be 500,000 computing jobs – at a rate of 50k per year.)

It seems that the course content offered by Trump U wasn’t all it was cracked up to be either. According to the New Yorker, “the contents and material presented by Trump University were developed in large part by a third-party company that creates and develops materials for an array of motivational speakers and Seminar and timeshare rental companies.”

Third party companies developing mediocre products to be used in the classroom? You mean like the ones our districts spend fortunes on each year because they claim to be Common Core aligned or “personalized”?

It makes you wonder: was Trump University sort of like the phony school of education called Relay Graduate School that is spreading across the nation like wildfire at the approval of our elected officials? Or the charter chains that promise big results but end up swindling taxpayers out of funds for their local public schools? Or the research-devoid blended learning programs made by programmers in Silicon Valley?

Maybe now is the time to admit that we’ve all been getting the Trump U treatment… and we’ve had enough.