LOS ANGELES, Jan. 28, 2017 – California’s educators say White House nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos would be a disaster for California’s students and public schools. Flanked by the nearly 800 delegates to the CTA State Council of Education, CTA President Eric Heins held a news conference today calling for the rejection of DeVos at her Senate committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday. Educators also approved a resolution demanding the public education all students deserve and inviting Californians to take the pledge to ensure all students can succeed
“President Donald Trump’s unqualified nominee to head the federal Department of Education would be a disaster for our students,” Heins said. “Betsy DeVos has never worked as an educator or in a public school in any capacity. She didn’t attend public schools, and did not send her children to public schools,” he said. “Instead, she has spent her career working to undermine and privatize public education. DeVos has lobbied and bankrolled failed schemes like vouchers, which take taxpayer money away from public schools to fund private schools, and unaccountable, corporate charter schools.”
Declaring that “social justice for all begins with a quality, free public education” where students are safe, delegates to CTA’s top governing body today unanimously approved a “Resolution in Support of the Public Education All California’s Students Deserve” calling on federal, state and local lawmakers to advocate for all students and against any policies that undermine students’ rights to “attend school free of fear, bullying and discrimination.”
Heins said today’s State Council resolution is necessary to remind the White House that destabilizing our schools will destabilize our communities. “Our neighborhood schools build future generations,” he said. “We are a state with nine million students in our schools and colleges and we are rising up to defend our values.”
“Since the election, there has been an increase in hate speech and hostile acts directed at students in schools. Many students are scared and anxious. This is not acceptable,” said Heins. “That’s why we’re asking ALL Californians to take the pledge. Together we will protect students and their families, public schools and colleges, the teaching profession and our communities from any policies that would undermine these values. Join us in saying NO to Betsy DeVos and YES to the civil rights which begin with a free, quality public education for all students.”
Take the Pledge: A Call to Action for the Public Education ALL California’s Students Deserve. Many resources are available in the Advocating for All Students: A Social Justice Toolkit including social justice posters with messages such as Free Public Education Is a Civil Right, Hate-Free Zone, and This Classroom Is a Safe Zone. Resources about CTA’s ongoing campaign against for-profit charters in California are at www.KidsNotProfits.com. California school districts, college districts and city councils are urged to pass similar resolutions.
The resolution declares that “public schools should serve as centers of the community, not profit centers” for corporations looking to plunder public education funding with schemes that DeVos backed in Michigan as a billionaire lobbyist. She has zero experience in public schools and is bent on dismantling and privatizing them nationwide.
The resolution’s preamble states, “When a U.S. president nominates a secretary of education who has never worked in public education and has led efforts to privatize our schools, this is not acceptable.”
The resolution reiterates CTA’s long-standing commitment to ensuring all students have the well-rounded education they deserve, and the basic academic and workplace rights that CTA has fought for over the union’s 154-year history. The state “has always strived for and deserves a quality, inclusive, safe and innovative public education system that ensures all students can succeed, regardless of their ZIP code, the color of their skin, their native language, their gender or gender identity, their immigration status, their religion, who they love, or their social standing.”
California “supports safe-haven schools and sanctuary cities that reflect and embrace the diversity of our students and their families, as well as the rich language and cultural assets they bring to our communities,” the resolution says.
It stresses that all students deserve access to affordable colleges, smaller class sizes, and adequate health care, and that parent, family and community engagement are vital to creating a shared vision for student learning.
Educators must have, among other things, time to collaborate with colleagues, the right to shared decision-making to determine the most effective teaching methods, and competitive salaries comparable to other professions to attract and retain quality educators for students.
While California is leading efforts to bring equity to its school funding system, it now ranks 46th in per-pupil funding and is $3,462 below the national average.
In the resolution’s conclusion, the Council delegates resolved to renew their commitment to protect students and their families, public schools and colleges, the teaching profession and our communities from any policies that would undermine these values.