Day 830: Why did Trump break tradition and not present award for National Teacher of the Year?

The National Teacher of the Year award was presented to Rodney Robinson during a White House ceremony on Monday, along with state winners. Robinson was honored for his work teaching at a Richmond, Virginia school inside a juvenile detention center.

Donald Trump, who had nothing on his schedule, except a meet and greet with the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Champion Baylor Bears and lunch with Mike Pence, was noticeably absent. That’s odd considering that awarding the honor would usually be a role the president handles.

The teaching award has been given since 1952 and is traditionally presented by the president. DeVos presented it Monday, but an Education Department spokeswoman says Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with award winners in the Oval Office.

Some wondered if there wasn’t a racial component to Trump not presenting the award. Robinson, who is black, was being honored at the White House — during a press-free event — just days after Trump heaped praise on Robert E. Lee yet again. Trump has also made numerous racist statements since being elected. For decades, he has exhibited a litany of racist words and actions, including those aimed at black Americans. If Trump wanted to downplay the event and honorees, including Robinson, barring the press and not going himself would be an excellent way to do it.

Perhaps Trump — never one for commiserating with non-yes-men — wanted to avoid any potential for embarrassment, after last year’s winner gave Trump a letter from an immigrant student.

Last year, Trump awarded the honor to Mandy Manning, who teaches English to refugees and immigrants in Washington state. At the White House event, Manning handed Trump a letter from a Rwandan immigrant student that urged the president to “take care” with his language about immigrant and refugee communities. She also wore a pin that read “Trans Equality Now.”

However, last year, even Trump noted the tradition of presidents presenting the award.

Trump during his remarks honoring Manning noted the longevity of the tradition of the president bestowing the award.
“Every president since Harry Truman has honored the National Teacher of the Year, and I’m proud to continue this tradition with this year’s recipient: Mandy Manning, of the state of Washington,” Trump said.

Trump was in town and in the building. No matter whatever stated reason the White House may come up with, there’s no reasonable explanation as to why Trump would skip the event that last year he stated he was “proud to continue.”

830 days in, 632 to go


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