School Administrators, Natl. Education Assn. slam Trump’s Ed Budget cuts

WASHINGTON —The School Administrators (AFSA) and the National Education Association slammed the GOP Trump administration’s planned federal education budget cuts and its $400 million increase for taxpayer-paid vouchers for parents of private school students.

The cuts would hurt low-income students in K-12 grades and in trying to afford college, say NEA President Lilly Eskelsen-Garcia, a pre-K teacher from Salt Lake City, and AFSA President Diann Woodard, a former Detroit public schools teacher and assistant principal.

Details of the budget that Trump and his Education Secretary Elizabeth “Betsy” DeVos, a rabid foe of public schools and unions, planned to release May 23 were leaked to the Washington Post. DeVos got the education job due to her big GOP giving.

Trump and DeVos want the GOP-run Congress to cut a net of $9.2 billion (13 percent) in federal education funds, while adding $400 million to subsidize voucher programs for parents of private-school children. The budget also calls for shifting $1 billion from regular public schools to charter schools.

The college students would be hit with Trump-DeVos plans to cut federal work-study funds in half, eliminate college student loan forgiveness for graduates who pursue public service careers and even to kill $15 million for day-care centers for children of low-income college students, among other ideas.

Vouchers and charters are favorite right-wing causes. The vouchers let parents use taxpayer dollars for religious schools, and school systems often establish charters to avoid accountability, and unions. DeVos, also a rabid union foe, has no public school background.

The proposed cuts will set up a big battle in Congress, where NEA, AFSA and the American Federation of Teachers all collaborated last year with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to rewrite federal education aid law, and to shift more decisions to the states.

Woodard said “AFSA is appalled” by Trump’s budget plan. “Wholesale elimination of a program designed to hire and provide professional development to principals and teachers in order to prop-up unaccountable private schools and engage in an unnecessary peace time build-up of U.S. armed forces is completely unacceptable.

Trump and DeVos “also completely undermine the intent of the bi-partisan Every Student Succeeds Act, which allows states to set aside up to 3 percent of the money” from one of its sections for “principal- specific training and support,” Woodard said. ESSA was the bipartisan federal school aid law.

“If Congress approves this budget, you can be assured our failure to provide reasonable support to our public schools now will lead to students, educators and the nation as a whole paying dearly later,” Woodard warned.

“This budget once again illustrates why the American people have no confidence in Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos when it comes to education,” Eskelsen-Garcia said. “They just don’t get it. The priorities President Trump outlined in his budget are reckless and wrong for students and working families. If enacted, the Trump budget will crush the dreams of students, deprive millions of opportunities, and make it harder for students to access higher education.

“Members of Congress need to listen to their constituents who do not want to slash public schools in order to spend millions of dollars on private schools. There is a responsibility to provide great public schools for every student in America.

“We believe improving public schools requires more money, not less, and public money should only be used to help public schools. We urge Congress to reject the Trump-DeVos budget proposal and fight for opportunity for all students,” Eskelsen-Garcia concluded.

The two unions aren’t the only organizations protesting the Trump-DeVos budget cuts. In an article AFSA posted on its website, New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia protested planned cuts in a face-to-face late April meeting with DeVos. So did other state school commissioners at that session.

“President Trump’s proposed drastic cut to the Department of Education’s budget is an irresponsible disregard for vital education programs and would be devastating to New York’s children,” Elia and New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa said.

Source: PAI