US education unions have expressed serious concerns at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s announcement that he will reduce the education budget by US$20 billion.
With just weeks to go before the presidential election, the US affiliates to Education International (EI), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), agree that the proposed US$20 billion cut to the education budget by Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s candidate, would have grim results.
AFT: Deep cuts will hit millions of children
According to the AFT, this budget reduction would potentially:
• Strip funding from up to 56,000 public schools — putting at risk the education of nearly 21 million children
• End Title I funding — funding distributed to schools and school districts with a high percentage of students from low-income families — and cut US$5 billion used for other crucial resources, potentially hurting more than eight million higher education students who rely on Pell Grants (a subsidy by the federal government for students who need it to pay for college), five million English language learners in public schools, and millions of others
• Take away US$12.7 billion that five million students with disabilities count on to fund their education
• Eliminate as many as 300,000 teacher jobs — leaving millions of students in larger classes with less support
In an open letter, AFT president Randi Weingarten says that Trump’s plan would transfer nearly 30 per cent of the federal education budget into private school vouchers. This, she says, is of serious concern since research has shown that private school voucher programmes are not efficient or beneficial — not for the students who receive them, and not for the students in public schools whose schools have been deprived of funds.
“Private schools do not enforce all federal civil rights laws, do not adhere to religious freedom protections provided under the U.S. Constitution, and do not face the same public accountability standards that all public schools must meet, including those in Title IX, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — the very law that Congress just reauthorised in 2016,” she stressed.
NEA: Proposal robs public schools to benefit of private schools
The NEA has joined AFT in its criticism of Donald Trump’s policy projections. “Donald Trump isn’t serious about doing what’s best for our students, and he’s clueless about what works,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “His silver bullet approach does nothing to help the most vulnerable students and ignores glaring opportunity gaps while taking away money from public schools to fill private-sector coffers. No matter what you call it, vouchers take dollars away from our public schools to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense with little to no regard for our students.”