Words by: Treasure Glover
Although the United States is said to be “founded in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare,” the current state of our country fails to mirror these words.
Currently, citizens use almost half of their income to pay for housing, student loan debt is collectively $1.3 billion in the country, and cities like Flint, Michigan do not have access to clean water.
In the next four years, the conditions of housing and urban development, education, and environmental protection will change for better or for worse with Trump’s picks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Education and Head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The plans and past efforts of the new U.S administration may cause citizens to question whose best interests the government will have at heart during this new presidential term.
Dr. Ben Carson earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology at Yale University. He later made the switch to medicine, receiving his doctorate at the University of Michigan with a specialty degree in neurosurgery. As a candidate for secretary of HUD, Carson wishes to cut 10 percent of all programs within this department. During Carson’s Senate hearing, U.S Sen. Bob Mendez, a democrat from New Jersey, referred to this part of his plan as a, “meat axe, not a surgeon’s knife.”
Rachel Johnson works in Tallahassee, Florida, as an independent organizer and advocate for people living in low income housing. She also is the co-founder of Helping Others Make Everything Right (HOMER). When asked about the significance of the HUD department, Johnson noted that it was important for citizens for a variety of demographics.
“The Department of HUD is a staple entity of the low income housing communities and population (i.e. seniors, disabled, children & families, homeowners). It allows balance to a flawed society,” Johnson said.
The HUD department also offers a variety of benefits to U.S. citizens, particularly for those in low income families.
“HUD offers more than rental assistance to the poverty level individuals and families; it offers self-sufficiency opportunities in grant funding to residents of public housing, training for private owners under housing assistance payment contracts and housing authority personnel of the HUD rules and regulations, processes and procedures to administering HUD’s rental assistance,” said Johnson.
Carson’s plan to cut 10 percent of the budget for HUD would remove $4.7 million of the budget that ensures that 4.8 million U.S families get the housing, training, and resources they need.
On the education front, Americans are in for a new uphill battle when it comes to maintaining the status quo of the educating our nations youth.
Besty DeVos, the U.S cabinet nominee for Secretary of Education, has an extensive background in primary education. DeVos is the former chair of American Federation for Children, she is known most for her work to privatize public education in Michigan.
Many of the Michigan charter schools where students consistently scored below the state average are open because of DeVos. Though she spent much time working for private schools, DeVos has no experience in higher education.
Lynn Jones, an elementary education teacher for students with disabilities, understands both positive and negative implications charter schooling can have.
“I am very familiar with charter schools, I worked in one,” Jones said. “I support charter schools to support kids who are being disenfranchised by the public school system and need to have support in a different setting.”
She continued, “There are some aspects of charter schools that I totally disagree with. As an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teacher at a charter school, I felt totally overworked. I had grades 4 through 8. I left because they would not hire another ESE teacher. I believe that the funds in most charter schools go to the elite, and that is the CEO’s. And I think that most of the money should go to the children instead.”
It is important that someone in the position of Secretary of Education understands the value of not only private schools, but also the value of public schools and works to advocate equally for both types.
DeVos’s previous work to dismantle private school and lack of experience in higher education is a concerning matter ask U.S. Cabinet members are being selected in the months ahead.
President Trump’s pick for the secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt is known for his opposition to the U.S. Clean Water Act. Pruitt has done work to prohibit states that work against carbon pollution from gaining necessary resources from the EPA.
His continued resistance to entertaining many of the EPA’s proposals in the past may have been a foreshadowing of his advising as Secretary of EPA that is to come.
Dr. Bruce Strouble is the director of the nonprofit organization Citizens for Sustainable Future, which is part of The Moving Forward Network. Strouble sees the importance in ensuring that communities engage in practices that help reduce pollution.
From the viewpoint of an environmental advocate, Strouble does not have confidence in Scott Pruitt’s ability to provide clean environmental practices to the citizens of America.
“He seems to not be concerned with climate change, he doesn’t seem to be knowledgeable about the ways that pollution impacts communities, and that’s indicative of the whole Trump Administration,” said Strouble.
It loves me, it loves me not. Now more than ever, living in the age of Trump, this sentiment resonates among a number of Americans who are unsure of what the future holds. While plucking petals off a flower may not give us all the answers we’re looking for, taking a second look at Trump’s nominees will definitely provide some supportive insight.
Dr. Bruce Strouble