Protecting our students from the DeVos agenda
NEA and WEA stand strong against the Trump-DeVos agenda, which threatens students and public schools. WEA's Unity Agenda for 2018 states we:
WEA supports Senate Bill 5689, which will help protect the rights of immigrant students and their families.
The billionaire DeVos family has funded the national State Policy Network, which also receives funding from the controversial Koch brothers and includes the Freedom Foundation and the Washington Policy Center here in our state. Both groups are dedicated to attacking educators' union rights and actively fight against ample funding for public schools and student needs like smaller class sizes.
Here's a statement from NEA President Lilian Eskelsen Garcia about the federal attacks on Washington's public schools and students:
“A child’s success should not depend on a gamble, and yet today’s visit by President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos shows they’re doubling down on failed policies like voucher schemes that steal taxpayer dollars from public schools to fund private and for-profit schools, all at the expense of students. For too long, these schemes have experimented with our children’s education without any evidence of real, lasting positive results. The Trump-DeVos agenda does nothing to provide opportunity to all of our students, and that is evident here in Florida.
“What’s also troubling is that vouchers undermine accountability to parents and taxpayers. Private and for-profit schools that receive taxpayer-funded vouchers have almost complete autonomy on how they operate. They can pick and choose which students they want and which students they’ll turn away. These schools don’t have to follow academic standards, don’t have to hire qualified teachers and don’t have to disclose financial decisions to the public.
“It is time we start doing what we know works by fully supporting neighborhood public schools so that students have a well-rounded curriculum, class sizes small enough for individual attention and support services such as health care, nutrition and after-school programs for students who need them.”
We don't need the DeVos voucher agenda here in our Washington
- Vouchers, education savings accounts, and tuition tax credits harm students, communities, and undermine the public schools that educate nine out of every 10 students. There is no valid evidence that such schemes improve the performance of either the students receiving them or those left behind in public schools.
- Regardless of what they’re called, vouchers, education savings accounts, tuition tax credits, and other related initiatives rob public schools of vital funding and resources.
- These programs ultimately deprive students of the rights and protections guaranteed in public schools.
- Vouchers harm students who are most in need by taking critical resources away from our neighborhood public schools.
Protecting LGBTQ Students
And here are Eskelsen-Garcia's comments on LGBTQ students:
"Every student matters, and every student has the right to feel safe, welcomed, and valued in our public schools. This is our legal, ethical and moral obligation. The Trump administration’s plans to reverse protections for transgender students by rescinding the Title IX guidance, is dangerous, ill-advised, and unnecessary."
Supt. of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal says Washington law protects transgender students from discrimination, regardless of the Trump administration's actions: "Washington state law continues to protect transgender students from discrimination in school, which includes names and pronouns, dress codes, student participation in sports and physical education, harassment, and students' use of restrooms and locker rooms. The federal guidance will not affect state law. "
Protecting Students from All Backgrounds
WEA President Kim Mead recently testified in support of a state Senate bill that would help protect students from illegal or unconstitutional policies – particularly immigrant students.
“As our public schools and our economy become even more diverse, we believe it’s crucial for all students and families to know that public schools are safe and will provide the learning environment required for all students to succeed,” Mead said.
Teacher and Tacoma Education Association member Nathan Gibbs-Bowling recently organized a town hall meeting to discuss how educators can help keep students safe from those policies.
“The safety of our students must be protected.” Gibbs-Bowling said.
WEA also opposse anti-union attacks at the federal level, including attacks on the right to collect fair share fees. Here's a story about so-called right-to-work legislation in Congress: "The current Republican-dominated government has created arguably the most favorable landscape for national passage since the measures first cropped up in the South in the World War II era. Since their introduction, the laws have had a sordid history."
If we are serious about every child’s future, let’s do what we know works:
* Let’s invest in smart strategies that we know help to improve the success of all our students, including creating more opportunities and equity for students, classes small enough for one-on-one attention, modern textbooks and a well-rounded curriculum for every student.
* Resourced neighborhood public schools that are desirable places to be and learn are our best bet for setting every student in America off to a great future.
* We must create learning environments with class sizes that enable teachers to connect one-on-one with each student and curriculum standards that encourage critical thinking and creativity.
* Instead of taking away funds from our public schools and handing it over to private schools, we should invest in our public schools to reduce class sizes, increase parental involvement, and provide ongoing teacher training to give all our students a better chance to compete for jobs of the future.