Monday, February 20, 2017

Trump- DeVos Begin Attack on Public Education

Action Alert: US House bill pushes the privatization agenda

The new administration's attack on public education has begun, and we need you to take action today to stop it.

In late January, HR 610 was introduced by Steve King of Iowa, with representatives from Maryland, Texas and Arizona signing on.

You can read a summary of the bill at the website. HR 610, the School Choice Act, would eliminate the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was passed as a part of  Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty."  Federal funds would be used instead to create "block grants" to be used to "distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child." It would also roll back nutritional standards for free lunches for poor children.

But that is not all.

On Tuesday, Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump gathered together parents and teachers to talk about their education agenda. Who was invited (and who was not) is telling.

Of the ten attendees, one was a public school teacher and one was a principal of a public school that specializes in special education. There was one public school parent who also had children in private school.  The rest of the group were homeschoolers, charter school parents or private school representatives.

During the meeting, Trump praised what he referred to as a "Nevada charter school" that he had visited.  The school is actually a religious school which regularly excludes students with disabilities.  You can watch a video of the children pledging allegiance to the bible for Mr. Trump by clicking here.

It is very clear that bills like HR 610, which would provide vouchers to private and religious schools, would be supported by both the U.S. Department of Education and the White House. In fact, it would appear that every alternative to democratically controlled public schools will be favored, while a clear bias against public schools will exist.

Send an email today to your Representatives that says, "Do not sign on to or support HR 610." We make it easy to do. Just click here.

We need to send a clear message that we cannot afford, nor do we support, private and religious school vouchers. We do not want our public schools defunded as private schools, religious schools, charters and online for-profits are pushed.

Make no mistake. That is clearly Trump's intention. Watch him declare his support for school choice during a speech he gave during his visit to the Christian school in Las Vegas. You can watch it here.

Send an email today to your Representative that says, "Do not sign on to or support HR 610."  Send your email by clicking here.

Grassroots Groups Fight School Privatization

As we fight to save our democratically governed public schools, it is important that we learn from each other and support each other's efforts. The Network for Public Education began a Grassroots Network so that groups all across the nation can do just that.

Go here to find a group in your area. If there is none, start one and then tell us about it so that we can support your efforts and connect you with other like-minded groups.

In keeping with our commitment to support such efforts, the Network for Public Education is participating in a Journey for Justice sponsored campaign, #WeChoose, that fights school privatization and supports equitable community schools.

Read more about that campaign here. [NOTE: URLs given at website to support what is written.

NPE has also endorsed the The People's March for Educational Justice sponsored by New York's Alliance for Quality Education's (AQE) on March 4. You can learn more about that march here.

Trump wants us off balance. He wants to do what he wants, without checks and balances. Congress and the courts must do their job, and all of us must do our job as citizens—paying attention, calling foul when necessary, voting our values and blowing the whistle when officials trample on democratic rights and protect the wealthy and corporations at ordinary Americans’ expense. 

Every day this week, we will be pushing back against policies that hurt our communities, and we need your help. Write your members of Congress, keep calling their offices and show up to events or town halls in your area.

Trump isn’t “draining the swamp” as he promised during his campaign—he has appointed Goldman Sachs executives to rig our economy for the one percent, he appointed a billionaire with no experience in public education to run the Department of Education, his attorney general has a long history of racism and disenfranchisement, and his secretary of Health and Human Services wants to deny 20 million Americans quality, affordable healthcare with no alternative. 

Your calls, letters and presence are making a difference. Make sure your members of Congress know that you expect them to be a check on the Trump presidency, regardless of party affiliation. Make your voices heard this week during Resistance Recess.

We will continue to fight for all this country stands for, and I thank you for fighting with us. 

In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT President

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