President’s Message: Waging War on Behalf of Children

By Diann Woodard, AFSA President

The first 100 days of a new president’s tenure is the time when the power and influence of the office is at its greatest, the time in which successes and accomplishments clearly are measured.

Let us insist, therefore, that since education is one of the primary issues Americans want addressed, that the very first action our new president must take is to deal with the federal budget’s abject failure to address the desperate straits of children in need.

An analysis of the federal budget by the bipartisan advocacy organization First Focus found, for instance, that in addition to education funding, federal spending that affects children, including funding to prevent child abuse and neglect, funding to provide housing for children, and funding for programs targeted toward homeless youth, has dropped 9.4 percent since 2011.

The analysis goes on to say, “Congress is cutting funds for children more than twice as fast as spending [on children].”

We who are on the front lines of educating and caring for these children need this to stop. We must wage a war on behalf of the children. We must demand that the president set forth a plan to increase funding for education programs across the board.

In addition, now that Pandora’s box has been opened on unmonitored and poorly regulated charters and vouchers, we need the president to curtail them and subject them to the same rigorous standards governing our public schools.

Our poor underprivileged are desperate for the president’s help—and ours! They live in districts that are struggling and in states that are failing to put forth anything close to their best efforts to fund public schools.

By using the first 100 days to restore public education and demanding that states become more accountable for the use of federal funds, the new president will be sending a clear message of hope to our students that equality for all no longer will be ignored.

To ensure the new president understands the urgency of taking these actions, we AFSA members must be the watchdogs in our towns to ensure there is educational equity. We must speak up and speak out. And we must rally our allies in the profession to our cause, as we did in the fight for ESSA.

We have 100 days to hold the new president’s feet to the fire and give the children in greatest need a fighting chance at a better future. Let’s do it!