Action Item: Oppose Betsy Devos’ Plans and Budget


In case you haven’t already heard, Betsy DeVos is back at it – trying to undermine and potentially destroy the public education system on which this country was built.

If you have three-and-a-half minutes, you can get a taste of what DeVos’ intentions are behind her highly contested “school choice/education tax credit scholarship” proposal in this video published by the Washington Post featuring excerpts from DeVos’ testimony on the matter. By the way, don’t expect any hard answers from DeVos, she appears to be taking lessons in evasive maneuvers from Kellyanne Conway. In this one short video, she dodges questions on discrimination against students (specifically, LGBT students), funding for high-poverty schools, accountability and accreditation requirements for private schools receiving federal funding, and whether or not schools receiving federal funding will have to uphold disability protections.

 

Today’s action item has been adapted from Jen Hofmann’s weekly “Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience”

Action: Call your three MOCs to advocate for kids’ rights to a quality public education.

Look up your Senators and Representative at Govtrack.com

Script:

Hi. I’m a constituent from ZIP concerned about public education in the upcoming budget. I am calling to let [NAME] know I want three things:

  1. That no taxpayer money funds any religious education.
  2. That we honor all agreements to students working off loans in service programs.
  3. And that we increase funding to high-poverty schools and after-school programs. Thanks!

 

For additional reading, here are a few choice quotes from the articles included in Jen Hofmann’s action item below and some other picks from recent headlines:

From the National Coalition for Public Education: Vouchers Violate Religious Freedom

Private school vouchers violate the fundamental principle of religious freedom because they pay for religious education with taxpayer funds. They also threaten the autonomy of religious schools by opening them up to government audits, control, and interference.

From CNN: 400,000 were promised student loan forgiveness. Now they are panicking

“It would be absolutely detrimental to those of us who have planned our lives around this program. It would be the equivalent of pulling the rug out from under us,” said Daniel J. Crooks III, a government attorney who is expecting loan forgiveness from the public service program in six years.

From NPR: Education Department Faces Deep Cuts; DeVos Faces Tough Questions

“The Trump administration’s budget request is an assault on the American Dream,” according to a statement from former Education Secretary John B. King, Jr., who is now president and CEO of The Education Trust. “This shortsighted and cruel proposal would make the climb to success much steeper for all our young people, especially students of color and students from low-income families.”

From Salon: Trump budget would abandon public education for private choice

The Trump administration has announced its plan to transform education funding as we know it. The new budget proposal takes aim at a host of elementary, secondary and higher education programs that serve needy students, redirecting those funds toward K-12 school choice in the form of vouchers, tax credits and charter schools. The Conversation

The new budget proposes about $4 billion in cuts to programs like literacy for students with disabilities and limited English proficiency, class-size reduction, and after-school and summer programs.

On the surface, these policies are just about moving money around — freeing up traditional public school funding to spur growth in charter and private schools. Below the surface, however, I believe the new budget undermines confidence in public education.

North Carolina offers a cautionary tale. A few years ago, North Carolina slashed its traditional education budget by 20 percent, while doubling its expenditures on charter schools. Since then, North Carolina’s public schools have fallen from being among the finest in the nation to some of the worst.