NEA President: Trump at ‘Dangerous Intersection of Arrogance and Ignorance’

Jul 4, 2017 by

The president of the nation’s largest labor union says she is refusing to work with President Donald Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos because she does not trust their motives and cannot assume they will do what is best for children and families.

In an address to the 96th National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly in Boston this week, Lily Eskelsen Garcia said the president “resides at the dangerous intersection of arrogance and ignorance, and travels with a moral compass that always points to his own self-interests.”

She referred to DeVos as “a billionaire, the queen of for-profit privatization of public education.”

Eskelsen Garcia, who hails from Utah and was elected president of the nearly three million-member NEA in 2014, said:

I will not allow the National Education Association to be used by Donald Trump or by Betsy DeVos. I do not trust their motives. I do not believe their alternative facts. I see no reason to assume they will do what is in our students’ best interests and their families. There will be no photo-op.

We will find common ground with many Republicans and many Democrats on many issues. We will not find common ground with an administration that is cruel and callous to our children, to their families. And I don’t just judge them by their words; I judge them by their actions.

The union president further condemned Trump and his administration, saying:

There are corporate billionaires who, for their own profit, have tried to dismantle environmental protections, consumer protections, worker rights, civil rights, the right of every blessed child to have a quality public education. And those same corporate billionaires and their cronies are now the cabinet secretaries of the departments they vowed to destroy.

Eskelsen Garcia thanked members for fighting against DeVos’s Senate confirmation by contacting Democrat senators, actions that led to the need for Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie vote to allow DeVos to be confirmed.

“We were able to move some critical Republican senators over to the side that voted against her,” Eskelsen Garcia proclaimed. “And she failed to win a majority of the Senate that she needed for confirmation…we forced the vice president for the first time ever on a cabinet nomination to schlep up to the Capitol to break that tie.”

In February, Eskelsen Garcia sent a letter to DeVos, demanding answers to the following questions:

  1. Do you agree that all schools receiving public dollars must be held to the same accountability and transparency standards?
  2. Will you agree not to privatize funding for Special Education or Title I?
  3. Will you stand with education and protect our most vulnerable students from discrimination, including LGBT students, immigrant students, students of color, girls, and English language learners?
  4. Will you focus, as educators are focused, on the civil rights of all children, regardless of their zip code, by challenging the inequities so many face in equal access to programs, services and support?

As Education Week reports, on Tuesday, NEA passed a motion that states if DeVos does not answer Eskelsen Garcia’s questions by September 1, the union will call for her resignation.

The report notes the motion did not pass unanimously, however, and quotes one unidentified California delegate who said, “Demanding her resignation would either be used as a propaganda tool of the right to keep her locked in place, or be used to replace her with someone with equally bad ideas, but with the actual competence to see those ideas moved forward.”

In 2014, the NEA also demanded the resignation of former President Barack Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, because of his support for evaluating teacher performance, in part, with their students’ test scores on Common Core-aligned tests.

In her refusal to work with the Trump administration, Eskelsen Garcia has taken a different approach than her counterpart Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Though very critical of Trump and DeVos, Weingarten nevertheless toured a public school district in Ohio with DeVos in April.

“Look, she has made no secret up until this job, that she thought public schools were a dead end and she has worked as a lobbyist for two decades to dismantle them and defund them,” Weingarten told Fox Business, adding she asked to tour Van Wert schools with DeVos because the district “needs resources to do the things that they have been doing to create opportunities for students, and it is very much a poster child about how money matters and how public education matters — and it crosses party lines too.”

Weingarten also criticized protesters who attempted to block DeVos from entering a Washington, D.C. public school in February, tweeting, “We don’t condone such acts. We want her to go to public schools.”

Source: NEA President: Trump at ‘Dangerous Intersection of Arrogance and Ignorance’ – Breitbart

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