This Week in Education Organizing - July 7, 2017

Welcome to the Fight-Back

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal slashes $10 billion from public schools, and pumps new money in to charter expansion and voucher programs. 

What does that mean to you? 

*** The Indianapolis school board is taking the district towards an “all-choice” model, threatening to close three public high schools and replace them with three charters.  The state has received over $62 million in federal funds over the last ten years to open new charter schools, most of them in Indianapolis.  The President’s budget would increase funding for new charter schools without providing needed support for public districts.

*** In Michigan, more than 26,000 students participated last year in after-school programs funded with federal 21st Century Learning Communities grants. President Trump’s budget would eliminate that program entirely. "These decisions are being made by…people who have not walked in these kids’ shoes,” says the director of one such program, in Pontiac.

Welcome to the fight-back.  The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools is encouraging local teachers, parents and students to meet with their members of Congress during August, to demand that they say “NO” to the President’s budget proposal.  More information coming soon.

NEA Adopts New Policy on Charter Schools

The National Education Association, at their annual convention this week, adopted a strongly worded policy statement outlining and explaining the union’s new position on charter schools. The NEA statement “draws a clear line between charters that serve to improve public education and those that do not,” according to union president Lily Eskelsen Garcia.

This is the first formal position the union has taken on charters since 2001.  The statement was developed by a task force that has been meeting on the issue since last fall.  It notes that rapid expansion of charters has exacerbated disparities between public schools, and drained resources from districts. “Such separate and unequal education systems are disproportionately located in, and harm, students and communities of color by depriving both of the high quality public education system that should be their right,” the new policy says.

The NEA policy also opposes privately-managed charters and virtual charter schools, and asserts that all charters should be authorized by public school districts.

During the annual representative assembly, which is attended by over 7,000 delegates, President Garcia also took a hard line against the agenda of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, declaring that she would not work with DeVos.  "We will not be co-opted. There will be no photo op," García said in an interview with Politico: [DeVos] "is out to destroy public education and hurt the very children who need us the most. That does not mean that we can't go out there and find good Republicans ... We will work in a bipartisan way, but it will be to defeat her agenda. Not to talk her out of it. That is a waste of breath."  Read more here.

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