While distracted by Trump, tweets, and shiny objects, the real danger lies in the shadows.
|June 20, 2018 Day 7.
I’ve heard it said that education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. Education is not specifically addressed in the Constitution, but a historical precedent of central government involvement does exist. Previous Presidents all recognized this and made education a priority during their first years in office.
Historically, the Department of Education has worked to make sure that students are prepared for an increasingly global economy by providing supplemental funds to support students in low-income schools, students with disabilities, and other students who are historically underserved; distributing and monitoring trillions of dollars in funds to help students pursue higher education; and collecting and disseminating data about the nation’s schools. The department also protects students by ensuring that factors such as race, income, language, sexual orientation, and disability are not barriers to high-quality schooling.
The What: President Trump and Secretary DeVos have proven again and again that they have little regard for the nation’s public education system and the role of the Department of Education in protecting vulnerable students and supporting and improving public schools. Here are a few highlights:
• Despite his own lack of knowledge about education, Trump selected Betsy DeVos, who has arguably the least amount of experience in public education of any former education secretary. DeVos has not attended or worked in public schools, and her children have never attended public schools.
• In their first budget proposal, President Trump and Secretary DeVos slashed 13.6 percent, or $9.2 billion, of the Department of Education’s funding. This funding supports essential programs that train, support, and pay teachers and provide after-school programs for low-income children and families, among other things.
• In addition to massive cuts, President Trump and Secretary DeVos also proposed using $250 million to create a federally funded, nationwide school voucher program. Years of research have shown that private school vouchers are not an effective or equitable way to improve the nation’s schools.
• Secretary DeVos has since rejected the Obama administration’s position that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice, rolled back protections for sexual assault victims, and scrapped nearly 600 guidance documents, including more than 70 pertaining to the rights of students with disabilities.
The Impact: Supporting and protecting the nation’s students should be a priority of every president and secretary of education. This administration’s actions, however, clearly demonstrate that it is willing to sacrifice critical resources for the nation’s most vulnerable students to push an ideologically driven agenda. This intentional erosion of the Department of Education’s role is a deliberate attack on U.S. public schools and critical student protections. Smaller budgets, moving public funds to private schools, and withdrawing necessary protections can only be seen as a failure to protect our children and the future of America.
I’ll leave you with a final thought: “Education is not a tool for development - individual, community and the nation. It is the foundation for our future. It is empowerment to make choices and emboldens the youth to chase their dreams.” ~ Nita Ambani