This isn’t a week that will forever be known for increased confidence in media punditry. But perhaps we can agree that if predictions could be categorized, the major media might be a tad better at relaying inside-the-beltway gossip than reading the pulse of the American heartland. And so when multiple news groups start reporting the same cabinet-level rumor, it may be reasonable to pay attention.
In its guesses for Trump cabinet positions, CNN listed just one name for Education Secretary: Dr. Ben Carson. Both Politico and Buzzfeed also mentioned Carson, before following up with another possible name, William Evers, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Adding to the Carson conventional wisdom snowball: Prediction by the International Business Times posted on election day, citing the same aforementioned neurosurgeon as Trump’s likely pick.
As beltway rumors go, this one isn’t new. Last March, TheWeek.com openly suggested Carson might be the choice after candidate Trump, in response to an education question from ABC News’ Jack Tapper, praised Carson’s command of the issue. Then in May, both the Washington Examiner and Education Week published a survey by Whiteboard Advisors of what it called “clandestine underworld operatives.” Okay, not really. The survey respondents were described as “education policy insiders,” and Carson was the plurality name given as Trump’s most likely EduSec.
Given all this aligned speculation, you may be wondering what Dr. Carson believes the federal government should actually do to improve education. While the BenCarson.com site now just posts a simple “Thank You,” back during his Presidential campaign candidate Carson published an 8-page position paper that offers insight on his thinking. Namely, Carson gave “Five Principles to Restore American Exceptionalism in Our Schools.” They were school choice, shifting power away from Washington to states and districts, encouraging innovation, rewarding good teachers with merit pay and increasing private sector participation in the college loan business.
There’s one scenario in which Ben Carson will certainly not be the Secretary of Education: If there is no U.S. Department of Education. A number of websites from EAGnews.org to the Center for American Progress have run headlines asserting Trump sought to eliminate the Department. The trouble is that in a myriad of television appearances from MSNBC’s Morning Joe to FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor to a primary debate, Trump consistently used the somewhat vague word “cut” rather than “eliminate,” and often explicitly in the context of lower levels of federal spending, rather than Department closure.
Like a fine wine with a meal, you may pair this story with grains of salt, to taste.