Public education is the bedrock of our democracy: an educated citizenry is essential to the functioning our government. And, yet, there are forces at work within this country that are trying to destabilize this most essential institution: public education. They are strangling funding, misrepresenting its mission and accomplishments, and sowing seeds of cynicism and disrespect for public education…the students, the administration, and more often than not, toward the teachers who have dedicated their lives to education. The stage is being set for public education to fail, with privatization hovering on the horizon.
We must restore, where necessary, public schools that have experienced great stress, helping them to regain vitality, success and innovation. Horace Mann, considered the Father of Public Education, envisioned and established the “common” school as a public institution intended to nurture and teach all who lived within its boundaries.
So, where are we now? Under the Trump administration and his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, we are witnessing severe threats to public education funding in the form of vouchers:
- Betsy DeVos has been a long-time advocate of vouchers, along with President Trump
- If enacted into law, vouchers will drain essential funding from public education, thus ensuring even greater stress for public education
- Hold out the myth of allowing parents to make choices for their children with regard to school attendance, often with too few dollars allocated to make a significant improvement and with the responsibility for transporting their child to a new school
- Vouchers and the schools who accept them often discriminate against students with disabilities, not wanting their performance levels to be impacted
- Privatization with the use of vouchers often results in the re-segregation of entire cities
- Devastate the neighborhood schools and often whole neighborhoods, in the process
The President’s Current Budget Impact on Public Education: CUTS, CUTS, CUTS!
- $9.2 B in cuts, representing a 13.5% drop from the US Department of Education’s 2017 budget of $68.2B
- Trump administration proposing to use $1 B of Title 1 funding (pays for services for low income students) to pay for new school choice program (vouchers)…rolls back recent $550 m increase for Title 1 programs given to the states
The Bottom Line? This new administration is all about privatizing public education, re-directing our tax dollars to private corporations whose bottom line is profit, pure and simple, not the success of our children. What can we do? Become informed, attend school board meetings, support local referenda and speak out in support of our public schools.
Sandy Hill, Chairman Education Committee