West Virginia teacher Rae Ellen McKee says Donald Trump would have made a lousy teacher, though his "silver-spoon upbringing would relieve him of worry over his salary" and his "cunning mind" might prod student creativity.
On the other hand, she says, Rose Kennedy, while quick-witted and rich like Trump, appears to have the right stuff necessary to be a good teacher.McKee, 32, a remedial reading teacher at Slanesville Elementary School in West Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, knows what it takes to be an outstanding teacher. She is the 1991 National Teacher of the Year.
President Bush plans to visit her school Wednesday and present her with a crystal apple. The two will then travel back to Washington, where she will be introduced to national education and policymaking officials.
In an interview this week at a Washington hotel, McKee says good teachers must be able to immerse themselves in other people's lives.
"Unfortunately, a lot of teachers just skim the surface . . . and won't see any progress in their students," she said, noting she finds Trump rather superficial.
In her application for the Teacher of the Year award, McKee said, "I think it fortuitous that little Donald didn't idolize one of his teachers and martyr himself in the classroom. He just doesn't seem to have the right stuff."
The lifestyle of Trump, the New York tycoon whose 1980s excesses have fallen on hard times, provides a sharp contrast to the lives of her rural students.
"Everything that is brought to my children (students) is brought to them educationally. Most of their families don't go on vacation and they aren't exposed to different kinds of environments. Often reading material is not part of their home life," she said.
So teachers must fill in the gaps.
"Language deficits are probably the biggest problem that must be compensated," she said.
"We must expand the definition of literacy. If a person doesn't grow as a result of reading, we have a literacy problem. We must learn to teach people to become readers," said the remedial reading teacher.
McKee said she has not seen a consensus on how and what to teach children. But she feels education must include more than the basic skills.
"We must decide if we want education to create cogs in the wheel of success, or if we want education to help human beings become human. Education provides things that you can't sell on a world market.
"Society and government are dying to get teachers to teach to (what it takes to pass) a test. We are struggling with that. But maybe we should be striving to make them educate students to be civilized human beings," she said.