School administrators slam Trump for meeting with ‘advocates for privatizing’ public schools

WASHINGTON—The School Administrators are slamming Republican President Donald Trump and his hand-picked controversial Education Secretary, Elizabeth “Betsy” DeVos, for heavily weighting their first meeting on education to favor “advocates for privatizing the nation’s public schools.”

Instead, says AFSA President Diann Woodard, Trump and DeVos should be meeting with “major organizations representing school leaders,” including principals.

“Despite the fact that 80 percent of the nation’s children attend public schools, the overwhelming majority of the 10 people invited to participate in the meeting are involved in private, charter, parochial or home schooling, while only one public school teacher was invited,” Woodard said after the meeting was posted on the White House website in March.

“DeVos’ decision to dominate the meeting with privatization advocates largely to the exclusion of educators currently serving the needs of the vast majority of the nation’s schoolchildren strongly suggests that DeVos is already pursuing an agenda devoted to increasing support for charters and private schools,” Woodard said.

DeVos pursued that agenda “in our home state of Michigan, an approach that was shamefully devoid of accountability despite resulting in disastrous school performance at considerable cost to taxpayers,” added Woodard.

A GOP big giver and former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, DeVos is also part of the family that controls Amway, a shady selling scheme. She’s a top Michigan proponent of vouchers for parents of private school students and of trashing the state’s public schools and teachers, including weakening teacher tenure protections.

Woodard said Trump’s meeting “made it abundantly clear that DeVos’ profit-driven motive…is bound to increase the number of schools organized on the basis of religion, ethnicity and income, all of which would undermine the democratizing role of public education.

“The effect of her crusade for largely unregulated, for-profit charter schools in Michigan, where we both live, has already proved disastrous,” Woodard said.

Woodard wants Trump and DeVos to meet real school administrators’ groups, including her union and the associations of elementary and secondary school principals. She also wants to halt DeVos’ schemes, implied by the meeting’s participants, to cut funds for training principals. Last year’s new federal education law authorized the funds, but did not dole them out.

“These training resources are crucial to the improved performance of public schools for the children they serve — the central charge of your office and the centerpiece of your professed desire to serve as Secretary of Education,” Woodard said in a direct statement aimed at DeVos. “Our members can’t afford to be silenced — and we won’t be. Our representatives in Washington will continue to demand that we be given a voice.”

Source: PAI