School principals say “it’s time to organize” against Trump
Diann Woodward, president, American Federation of School Administrators. /AFSA Photo

WASHINGTON – Diann Woodard, president of the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA) said last week that Donald Trump and his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, have signaled that they are launching “a crusade for largely unregulated, for-profit charter schools,” just like DeVos did “in Michigan, where we both live.”

“It has already proved disastrous,” Woodard said.

“[It is] an approach that was shamefully devoid of accountability despite resulting in disastrous school performance at considerable cost to taxpayers,”

The AFSA is the nation’s largest union of school principals. Woodard was reacting to the first meeting Trump and DeVos had held on education policy, which was stacked with representatives of private and for profit schools.”

In her blog, Woodard wrote, “Despite the fact that 80 percent of the nation’s children attend public schools, the overwhelming majority [of those] invited to participate in the meeting are involved in private, charter, parochial or home schooling, while only one public school teacher was invited.”

Woodard continued, “DeVos’ decision to dominate the meeting with privatization advocates largely to the exclusion of educators currently serving the needs of the vast majority of the nation’s schoolchildren strongly suggests that DeVos is already pursuing an agenda devoted to increasing support for charters and private schools.”

In fact, Woodard said, Trump and DeVos have “made it abundantly clear that DeVos’ profit-driven motive … is bound to increase the number of schools organized on the basis of religion, ethnicity and income, all of which would undermine the democratizing role of public education.”

Education Secretary DeVos has had no experience whatever with public schools. She was chair of the Michigan Republican Party and a major donor to the Trump campaign. She is part of the family that controls Amway.

In Michigan, DeVos was an outspoken supporter of school vouchers for private schools and a leading opponent of giving teachers a voice in education. She was also strongly against tenure for teachers.

Woodard wrote that she is most concerned about the likelihood that DeVos will cut back on funding for principals’ training authorized last year by Congress in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

“These training resources are crucial to the improved performance of public schools for the children they serve,” Woodard wrote.

She strongly urged DeVos to meet with school representatives to “learn of our ideas for improving school performance, including representatives of my union [and the] the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association of Elementary School Principals.”

Woodard said, “our members can’t afford to be silenced, and won’t be. Our representatives in Washington will continue to demand that we be given a voice, and that the resources for principal training passed last year as part of the new ESSA law not be used to finance vouchers and privatization schemes.”

She concluded by telling her members, “It’s time to organize.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of the People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C.   Gruenberg has been editor-in-chief of PAI since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jarvis bureau chief for the Middletown NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for the Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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