This Week in Education Organizing - July 28, 2017

Welcome to our July 28th newsletter! As always, share the latest stories from your city or state with us on Twitter and Facebook. Don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues to sign up for our newsletter here.

AROS Statement on the Defeat of the Republican Health Care Proposal 

 “With a dramatic thumbs down, Senator John McCain put a nail in the coffin on the GOP’s mean-spirited attempt to strip health care and health insurance from millions of Americans while cutting taxes for the wealthiest.  Last night’s move was a glimmer of hope for the idea that our elected leaders can act for the good of the American people, and not only in political party lockstep.


Now more than ever, we need Democrats and Republicans to work together for the good of all Americans. With repeal of Obamacare likely dead for now,  we—parents, educators, clergy and community members—urge our elected leaders to fight forward for a budget that will preserve access to health care, adequately fund our nation’s public schools and do what’s right for the working poor and those that depend on America’s social safety net.


For the sake of our children, for whom a quality education is the key to a bright future; for the sake of our parents, who want only the best for their children; and for the sake of our educators who dedicate their lives to the noble task of teaching, we must now take our energies and moral high ground to demand that our leaders vote for a budget that serves the majority of the American people, not the wealthy few." 

Which Side are Democrats On? – A Powerful Commentary by Jitu Brown

Director of the Journey for Justice Alliance, Jitu Brown, has penned a powerful commentary for TruthOut, about the critical moment we are in for public education. Brown outlines examples of the “State-sanctioned sabotage of human potential” – in the form of inequitable funding and resourcing of our public schools in communities of color.  As we lurch towards privatization, Brown challenges Democrats and Republicans alike to reject the agenda of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and instead listen to the real voices and needs of their constituents in low-income and Black and Brown communities across the country. Read this call to action. 

Trump Makes a Donation for Education.  What a Guy.

The White House announced on Wednesday that the President is donating his quarterly salary -- $100,000 – to the Department of Education this month.  Hello?  This is not fake news.  President Trump has proposed stripping $9.3 billion from the education department’s budget next year, including funds for community schools, after-school programming, teacher training and school climate initiatives. 

Keron Blair, the director of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools responded, “with one hand, the President wants to cut billions of dollars from the budget. With the other he wants to appear altruistic by donating money. It is an empty gesture and reveals a sincere lack of commitment to meaningful work to ensure that all children have what they need to have a brighter future.”  

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told reporters that the pocket-change donation (which she called a “generous gift”) will be used to host a camp for kids, focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). 

NAACP Holds Firm on Critique of Charter Schools

Last fall, the executive board of the NAACP adopted a resolution proposed at their national convention, calling for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools, and citing concerns about their impact on public school districts, racial disparities and other issues.  The resolution caused an uproar in the charter industry, which organized letters and demonstrations against the resolution. In response, the NAACP created a task force on public education, which held seven hearings around the country and last week, issued their findings.

The task force report – available here --reaffirms the earlier position, and goes a step further. Though the task force finds “there are certainly some charter schools serving students well, there are also a wide range of problems with the operation of charters across the country that require attention."

"All children deserve the choice of a good neighborhood public school," the report says. "Public schools must be public. They must serve all children equitably and well. To the extent that they are part of our public education system, charter schools must be designed to serve these ends." 

New Report: “The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers”

The Center for American Progress (CAP) has unleashed a firestorm with the release of a new report, The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers earlier this month.  The report focuses in on Prince Edward County in Virginia, and the county’s resistance to court-mandated desegregation.  County officials chose to close its public schools altogether, and provide White students with vouchers to attend private schools.

Shortly after the report’s release, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten reiterated the findings in a speech to the union’s annual summer conference.  Like CAP, Weingarten drew parallels between the history of private school vouchers and efforts today by the President and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to deny public schools adequate funding while expanding access to vouchers.

The CAP report, and Weingarten’s speech have drawn attacks from the Wall Street Journal and from pro-voucher organizations and entities.   In response, it’s important to show support for these bold statements.  Please add your voice to social media with the hashtags #publiced,  #reclaimourschools and #dumpDeVos.  Share them with @AFTunion,  @rweingarten, and @reclaimourschls.

An interesting overview of the debate, and the current politics of vouchers can be found here, in a July 23rd article in Chalkbeat.

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