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PUBLIC EDUCATION

I assumed that the people essentially teaching the kids were not stupid.
They turned out to be very stupid.—Trump, in a 1997 deposition

He also has expressed an interest in eliminating the Department of Education because it has "been taken over by the bureaucrats in Washington" —Boccagnio, New York Times, 9/20/16

Trump wrote in The Art of The Deal that he once hit his music teacher for "not knowing anything about music." In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, he suggested that teachers’ unions are harmful to the public education system. —Quinlan, thinkprogress, 11/21/16

(Scroll down to take immediate action)

UPDATE 7/13: Sexual assault survivors have words for Betsy DeVos (Take action in StopSexism section.) 7/8: Educators step up their defense of students as immigration raids escalate (NEA). Take action below, and in Immigrants' Rights section. 6/30: DeVos plans to eliminate effective protections for students in for-profit colleges (New York Times). 6/17: The Dept. of Education says it will "scale back" civil rights investigations in schools (New York Times). Take action #1, below. 2/26: Bill HR 610 seeks to eliminate nutritional guidelines for school lunches and undermine funding for public schools by providing vouchers for kids going to private school or being home-schooled. 2/7: GOP lawmaker introduced bill to abolish the Dept. of Education effective 12/18, right after DeVos was confirmed, despite her widespread negative views on public education (see below) and the Washington Post report that DeVos had plagiarized answers she submitted to the panel from Obama (which can get you expelled in college).

LEARN: Trump believes the public school system doesn’t deserve any more support (go immediately to College Affordability topic). As reported in the New York Times on 1/5/17, Betsy DeVos, former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and education activist who is a passionate believer in school choice [favoring non-public and charter schools], is now our Secretary of Education. Her brother, Erik Prince, is head of Blackwater (those who remember the Iraq invasion & Gulf War will remember that name) and has ties to Russia. He held a secret meeting in the Seychelles just before the inauguration to establish a Putin-Trump back channel (Entous et al., 4/3/17, Washington Post).

If you're confused about what is driving the anti-public school movement, please read this piece from Autostraddle: I was trained for the culture wars in home school...

Here are some highlights from DeVos’s confirmation hearing, on 1/17/17: she argued that guns should be allowed in schools (one WY school might be happy, she said, that they have a gun in order to shoot any grizzly bears who might wander onto campus); she didn’t understand that the Americans With Disabilities Act is a federal law (not a state preference) which requires states to abide by it; she revealed that neither she nor any members of her family have ever attended a public school; and she expressed no interest in helping to make college affordable for all. Having no experience for the post, she is our most unqualified Education secretary in history (she stated her experience consists of having worked with children). Dems were only 1 vote short of blocking DeVos's confirmation, despite her widespread negative views on public education and the Washington Post report that DeVos had plagiarized answers she submitted to the panel from Obama (which can get you expelled in college). DeVos has received boos at recent events. Both Trump and DeVos have denounced the involvement of the federal government in the nation’s schools:

Trump supports education vouchers that allow students to attend private rather than public schools. He recently unveiled plans to create a $20 billion block grant that would expand charter and private school options for low-income children. Trump would divert federal funding from schools to pay for the block grants. The difficulty here is that public schools lose critical funding to continue to educate most of the nation’s children. Funds are shifted to private charter schools, which may or may not be diverse. This idea, known as portability, is popular in conservative circles because, it is assumed, the competition that comes with choice would force struggling public schools to improve or close. But it worries many student advocates because, they say, it would also drain money from the schools that need it most and send taxpayer dollars to well-resourced private schools. (Turner & Westervelt, NPR, 9/25/16)

Should Trump eliminate the Department of Education, he’d be eliminating the services it provide. And what do those include? Funds to aid schools in educating at-risk and special needs students, and Pell Grants which help low-income students pay for college: $56 billion in 2016.

Those concerned about preserving quality public education will have to fight just to keep the system we have, let alone improve it. It might be a good time to remember that Trump founded Trump University, a fraudulent “education” entity that bilked people of their life savings, some of them elderly. Three fraud lawsuits were filed against him, which he settled in Court for $25 million, paid out on 1/18/17, the day before Dark Friday (Inauguration Day).

FOR 2018 ELECTIONS: The Dem Senators who voted against taking DeVos' appointment to the Senate (to block her before the full floor vote) and are up for re-election in 2018 were: Baldwin (WI), Casey (PA), Kaine (VA), Murphy (CT), Sanders (VT), Warren (MA), Whitehouse (RI). Let them know you appreciate their vote, and work to help them win in 2018! These are the Senators who voted to confirm DeVos who are up for re-election in 2018: Flake, Wicker, Fischer, Heller, Corker, Cruz, Hatch, Barrasso. We will remember and work to unseat them! (see #3, below). The following Republicans signed on to the bill, by Thomas Massie, to abolish the Dept. of Education 2/7: House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (Utah) and Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Walter Jones (N.C.) and Raúl Labrador (Idaho). Work to replace them in 2018! (see #3, below, and Flip Congress section) Chaffetz had a Town Hall (Chicago Tribune) on 2/9, attended by over 1,000 UT residents, who let them know what they think of his actions. Inspiring!

TAKE ACTION

(1) Contact your representatives to register your opinion about the "scaling back" of civil rights investigation and enforcement in our schools (see #3 for how).

(2) Write a letter to your representative via Network for Public Education's fight against HR 610, which would eliminate nutritional requirements for school lunches, and undermine public education by diverting money to vouchers for private and home schooling. It's fast and easy!

(3) Remember, you have two House representatives and two Senators. Who are your representatives? DC House of Representatives switchboard: 866-948-8977 and Senate 866-985-2543 (in addition to your local and state Congressional reps, call the DC number when Congress is in session and/or when you feel very, very strongly and alarmed about an issue or imminent legislation). The Indivisible Guide gives tips for effective action, including phoning rather than emailing. Don't know your Senators’ phone number? Call 202/224-3121, put in your zip. You’ll be transferred. Shy to call? Don’t be concerned. You’ll likely be sent to voicemail. If you do reach someone, speak concisely and politely, telling them:

...you live in their district (for Representatives) or state (for Senators),
...you’re for the strengthening of public education,
...and you want them to:

obstruct the GOP’s efforts to dismantle the Department of Education and/or obstruct HR 610!

(5) Support your local education unions! They are working tirelessly to improve public college and university instruction in the United States. Unions' right to collect dues from those they represent is likely to be cut soon under Trump, weakening worker protections across the country.

(6) If and when your state's higher education institutions come under funding threat, contact your Governor's office and representatives to your state's legislature. Search on "find your state legislators." In California? Go here. Shy to call? Don’t be concerned; you’ll likely be sent to voicemail. Explain you're concerned about any cuts to public college and university funding, that you're keeping track of their actions, and that you vote. Short of visiting in person, phoning is the most effective way to reach and influence politicians.

Take action on:

Education: College Affordability

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