“Betsy “Amway” DeVos clearly demonstrated at her confirmation hearings that she is unqualified to be Education Secretary. While her approval by Republicans in the United States Senate is a national embarrassment and an insult to public school families, the bigger issue is the Republican/Trump plan to privatize public education in the United States through outsourcing, vouchers, and tax credits and to eliminate opposition and make private schools the profitable by breaking teacher unions. While all public schools do not functional well, problems are rooted in poverty and discrimination in American society, not schools and teachers. Privatization is a threat to a fundamental American institution that promotes democracy and citizenship while contributing to social mobility.
In response to Trump, Betsy, and the Republican Party’s push to privatize public education, students, teachers, parents, and community members across New York State will march on Saturday March 4 for education justice. Multiple marches are being organized by the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE).
AQE charges Donald Trump and DeVos with threatening to take billions of education from New York communities. They are also concerned because “Governor Cuomo has a history of woefully inadequate education investments” and they believe “his current proposal is his worst ever and would take cuts to the next level.”
The People’s March for Education Justice program includes:
• Full & Fair funding for all Public Schools from Pre-K – College
• End the School to Prison Pipeline: Solutions, not Suspensions
• Increase Access to Early Care and Learning Opportunities for Babies & Toddlers
• End the state’s over-reliance on high-stakes testing
• Protect Public Education: End of School Privatization
• Implement Culturally Responsive Curriculum
• Increase Supports for Students in Poverty
• Increase Supports for Immigrant Students & English Language Learners
• Protect the Educational Rights of Students with Disabilities
• Full & Fair funding for all Public Schools from Pre-K- College
According to the March call “The system of driving school funding based on zip codes and home values, perpetuates systemic racism through dramatic inequalities in educational opportunity. The racial inequality in school funding is exacerbated by the fact that New York State has the most segregated schools in the country. For over a decade we have yet to see a political will of urgency from New York State’s elected leaders to reverse the racial and economic inequality for our children.”
The issues are especially sharp in New York State where Governor Andrew Cuomo has essentially endorsed the Trump/DeVos educational agenda. According to the Network for Public Education, Cuomo branded public schools a “monopoly that he wants to “break” and introduced a bill to provide backdoor school vouchers in the form of tax credits. An analysis of Cuomo’s proposed state budget shows plans “to expand charters in NYC” by eliminating the current cap, give more taxpayer dollars to charter schools for rent, and force New York City schools to give more space in their own school buildings to charter schools.”
Huffington blogger Arthur Camins offers a thoughtful discussion of political strategy for education activists in his latest post.