Thursday, March 14, 2019

Public Education Funding MUST become a National Priority!

It is clear that President Trump has an agenda that does not support public education. His recent budget proposal is evidence of this. This year’s 2019 budget proposal includes the following cuts:  
- $2 billion from the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grant Program
- $1.2 billion from Afterschool programs
- $1.2 billion from Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants
- $29 million from Arts in Education
- $17.6 million from the Special Olympics
- $840 million from Supplemental Opportunity Grants
- $630 million from the Federal Work Study Program
Additionally, Trump is proposing $5 billion for the expansion and creation of new private school voucher programs in the form of tax credit scholarships.
It is a fact that our public school system can not sustain budgetary cuts of this size. The truth is, the Federal Government actually owes our states and our schools millions, if not billions, of dollars in IDEA funding. We need our Federal Legislators to speak out against this budget proposal and demand a shift in the prioritization of spending that puts the focus on our future.
Our BATs Board of Directors had a few comments about the recent budget proposal.
Cutting education funding is a symbol of how much disdain this administration has for public education. It is clear that with Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, this administration will continue to push neoliberal privatization policies that weaken the ability of states to provide high-quality public education for all. If we truly want to see America be a great country, we must invest in a democratic free public education system that provides equity to the most marginalized children and their families.
Denisha Jones, Assistant Executive Director, BATS
Why would Trump make radical cuts to public education in his proposed budget? Trump’s cuts to public education are a direct attack on democracy, freedom, and equality. Public education creates a well-educated civil society, a society engaged and informed in our democracy, and America’s best hope for equality. A well educated society is an existential threat to Trump’s authoritarian world view. DeVos plans to remove the separation between church and State by any means necessary. These draconian budget cuts, along with the Trump and DeVos’ policies, are further steps that would deliver America deeper into authoritarianism. We must protect our public schools by refusing Trump’s budget and their policies. Susan DuFresne, Director, BATs
If budgets are moral documents, this budget is evidence of the moral bankruptcy of this administration. There is nothing more important to building the future than an investment in our children, ALL of our children! Over 90% of children attend public school in the United States. Those of us who grew up in a world where our elders invested in us, in the future, have benefitted from all that investment brought us. We can’t allow our children and grandchildren to be abandoned in favor of making sure that just a few wealthy citizens get tax breaks and tuition breaks at their private schools. The hypocrisy of an administration that claims to be “pro-life” and care about children presenting a budget like this is stunning. Kathleen Jeskey, Co-Director of State Administrators

One has to wonder why any administration would reduce funding for education, instead of increasing it. Let's consider who gets hurt the most and who stands to capitalize from that hurt. Looking at each of the areas being cut, it is clear it will be children living in poverty, children with special needs, and children of color. It doesn't take an expert to see who they're looking to “fix” it. The business of education is booming, increasing segregation through charter schools and creating a “for profit” environment in education. Pedagogy isn't a business. Children aren't employees who can be “fired” if they don't produce. They come with trauma, hunger, mental health, physical health and cognitive development needs, which require specialized training and services that require funding. It is not enough to just take a small group, in the name of “choice” and throw all others by the wayside. No. We must educate ALL children and that requires more funding, not less. Yarissa Ramos, Director, BATs
Minority groups and the poor have always had to fight for a decent education, and in the immediate post Civil Rights Movement era it seemed possible. People began to catch up and close the gaps. Now we have budget and program cuts meant to upend any progress toward educational equity that may have been achieved during that interim. This is the agenda behind these cuts and the scuttling of the public education system; elimination of competition and ensuring a two-tiered education system of haves and have-nots.
What people fail to realize is by doing will eventually harm the general public good and not just the currently targeted populations. Investment in people benefits everyone. Disinvestment in people hurts everyone whether people acknowledge it or not. -Wilma de Soto, Director, BATs
29 Billion being cut from Arts Education -- will have a devastating impact on our students. Excellent programs that now infuse in our public school children with hope and expression will be gone. Cultural enlightenment will be gone. Children who who are motivated to learn because of the arts will not learn.
Their Arts educators will be gone. The American cultural landscape is fed by our arts programs. 29 million will not add very much to a wall used for nothing except division and ego. 29 million gone will deprive the motivations for lifelong learning dependent upon arts education. It will matter to our future, most certainly, because the quality of public education will be gone.
These cuts are evidence of the utter disdain for childhood, pedagogical and cultural ignorance. 29 million gone, and so will be the cornerstone of American education. Susan M. Goncarovs, Co-Director, BATs Meme Team and Retired Visual Arts Specialist.
It’s clear that the educators in this country are done with accepting the leftover crumbs that are given to public education after other budgetary areas are funded. The #Red4Ed movement is distinct evidence of that. Push back from public educators have swept across the country in different states, at different times. This leads one to wonder what could potentially happen if and when we create a united front to raise our voices as one and demand that public education become a main priority on a national level. No Child Left Behind became synonymous with corporate ed reform, high-stakes testing, and neoliberal policies. It’s time to reclaim these words and redefine what this really means. It’s time to demand that we truly invest in our future!

Send your legislator an email today! https://actionnetwork.org/letters/prioritize-public-education-spending


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