This summer, we have a unique opportunity to capitalize on the widespread resistance to the Trump agenda – and in particular to Betsy DeVos and all she stands for – to greatly expand a broad-based education justice movement that supports adequate funding for great public schools and stands in opposition to cutbacks, privatization, and vouchers.
The collaboration of AROS and the #WeChoose Campaign means we already have leadership from a wide range of directly affected communities—from big city parents and educators to rural locals. If we do this right we can steer thousands of newly activated public education supporters into existing AROS coalitions and seed new ones; strengthen and expand the activation of AFT and NEA locals in this fight; and greatly strengthen our program to “electoralize” the fight over public schools in 2018 and beyond. Most importantly, by doing this right we can help stop the Trump budget.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is probably the only member of the Trump cabinet who is widely known outside the beltway. Her nomination touched off a uniquely powerful firestorm of opposition. Even now, months later, CPD and People’s Action door-to-door education canvasses in Los Angeles, Reading, PA and Upstate New York, are generating unsolicited and unprompted comments along the lines of “can we sign up to fight DeVos?”
The release of the Trump/DeVos budget proposal last month sets the stage for a “which side are you on” moment: Are you for great public schools, or do you stand with the Trump/DeVos agenda of massive cuts and vouchers? Politicians, as well as everyday people, must decide.
AROS and the #WeChoose National Coalition are calling on local labor/community coalitions and youth-led organizing groups to join us this summer to fight back against the Trump/DeVos agenda. Local tactics could include:
- Weekend canvasses: educators and community members join together to knock on doors and help build a constituency for the fight against the Trump/DeVos budget. These canvasses are an opportunity to deepen ties between educators and parents, strengthen community organizations and union locals, and to generate phone calls and earned media that puts elected officials on notice that education voters want to know where they stand.
- Congressional town halls: Members of Congress will be on recess during the month of August. Educators, parents, and students could track and participate in any town halls that members of Congress hold, and pepper them with questions about the Trump/DeVos education budget and Secretary DeVos’s voucher and privatization agenda.
- Teach-ins at Congressional offices: Many members of Congress are shying away from town halls, so we’ll have to take the questions right to them. Organize actions at their offices: rallies, vigils, occupations – maybe teach-ins, where educators, parents, and students can create classrooms-for-a-day in the offices of members of Congress, and conduct lessons on the destructive impacts of the Trump/DeVos education budget.
- Our Own Town Halls: Journey for Justice is organizing #We Choose “critical conversations” in several cities to oppose the Trump budget and to advance Sustainable Community Schools. Other AROS groups and cities can coordinate with #WeChoose for locations, messaging and other materials.
- Bird-dogging Betsy. AROS will monitor the secretary’s schedule and develop some consistent messaging and visuals. At the local level, coalitions help organize a presence—whether large or small—at as many Betsy events as possible.