Ivanka Trump paid a visit to a Connecticut public school and some parents were so upset they pulled their kids out of school. Apparently, even their children’s education takes a backseat to politics.
White House advisor, businesswoman, and daughter of the president visited Norwalk Early College Academy at Norwalk High School earlier this week to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and hands-on learning. Her trip was unannounced for security reasons – likely to avoid a gathering of protestors.
Like other first ladies and first daughters who have visited schools to promote initiatives, this should've been a routine official visit, but it turned into a small controversy. Some parents were outraged that Trump would come to their children's school and rushed to pull their kids out:
"This should have been brought to our attention, although I do understand security reasons," says parent Karey Fitzgerald, of Norwalk. "I think we should have had the choice to send our child to school or keep them home."
Talk about an overreaction.
Trump was there along with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty because the academy is a collaboration between the Norwalk Public Schools, Norwalk Community College and IBM. The program allows students to concurrently earn a high school diploma and an associate degree in mobile programming or software engineering along with valuable technical skills. The students who stayed weren't unnerved by the visit. One student talked with Trump glowingly about the program.
But leave it to ideological parents and teachers to raise faux ire.
President of the Norwalk Teacher’s Association used the occasion to pivot to gun violence:
'The teachers were alarmed to get to school and see there was a high police presence, big parts of the building closed down with no communication about what was going on’…
'We were relieved that it was a big visit and some positive press but in light of the Sandy Hook anniversary, in light of the scare at McMahon, we really worried that there was something else going on. Without clear communication, it's hard to know how to function.'
Instead of being thankful for the national attention that Trump’s visit garnered this academy, parents (and the teachers’ association) couldn’t put aside their partisan feelings about anything Trump related. I’m sure if it was Sasha Obama who had come to visit, the parents wouldn’t be rushing to pull their kids out but rushing for a selfie.
It makes sense for parents to keep their kids out of school when there’s an inappropriate topic being covered. What is inappropriate about Ivanka Trump highlighting how business and education are working together to offer students the real-life skills that will help them find gainful employment?
This program seems to serve as a great model for how the private sector and public schools can work together to provide the future workforce with marketable skills. Those on the right and the left recognize that technology will bring changes to the workforce and young people must be ready for the economy for the future.
Sadly, when partisan politics trump good education policy, kids get left behind.