Donald Trump hasn’t said much about education in his 69 years on Earth, but everything he has told us is terrifying. That is why the presidents of the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers found it necessary to co-author a petition affirming the right of public schools to exist, and why more than 85,000 people have signed it. Trump, his nominee for Secretary of Education, and the people who surround him make no secret of their desire to put an end to public education.
Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos is a billionaire whose family founded the Amway corporation and who has never worked in education in any capacity. Instead, she has donated untold millions of dollars to pro-privatization groups that aim to pull money out of the public schools that 90 percent of our nation’s students attend and redirect it to private and religious schools that other billionaires might be able to profit off of. In the words of NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, “For the first time ever, our Secretary of Education could be an anti-public education activist whose sole ‘qualification’ for the job is the two decades she has spent attempting to dismantle, destabilize, and defund the American vision of public education.”
President-elect Trump, for his part, has only said that he plans to create a $20 billion nationwide school voucher program. The purpose of the program would be to encourage students’ parents to send them to private and religious schools to take money out of the public school system.
If you have not yet signed the petition, it is not too late. Do it today. Handing our schools over to billionaire privatizers is not the spirit of giving most of us have in mind in this holiday season. Instead, our leaders should be promising that every child will have an opportunity to succeed, including the 90 percent who attend public schools.
Educators’ voices are the voices most people listen to in discussions about education. We need to raise ours. If you want to join the fight to save public education, the union provides many ways to get involved. You can start with the NEA’s petition and then go to the school privatization resource page on WEAC’s website. Even better, get in touch with the union representative in the building where you work or with other leaders in your local union and tell them you want to become more involved.
If you have questions or ideas, please don’t hesitate to email me or call the Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287. The best gift we can give our students is a free, top quality, public education.
President of WEAC Region 6