Press Release

AFT Leaders on Donald Trump’s Education Speech

For Release: 

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Greg Greene
(404) 808-0329

WASHINGTON—Following Donald Trump’s education speech in Cleveland, American Federation of Teachers leaders released the following statements.

Randi Weingarten, AFT president:

“On yet another issue, Donald Trump hasn’t done his homework. The more you hear Trump talk about the issues, the more profoundly clear it becomes that he is completely unfit to be president. 

“Today’s speech on education repeats the same flawed ideology anti-public education zealots have been shilling for years. As far as we can tell, Trump never bothered talking to educators to find out what support they need in order to give every kid a great education.

“Instead, he shows his usual obeisance to the idea of making public education a market rather than a public trust, to blaming rather than respecting educators, and to ideas that have failed to help children everywhere they’ve been tried but instead, in their wake, have hurt kids by leaving public schools destabilized and their budgets drained.

“Trump’s got no research or evidence to back up his ideology—it’s just one more sound bite from a reality TV star turned presidential nominee. In fact, all the available evidence shows his ideas will only destabilize public schools and hurt kids; just this summer, a bipartisan 18-month study from the National Conference of State Legislatures found that the policies Trump is trying to sell America are the opposite of how high-performing nations build excellent schools. 

“None of this comes as a surprise: Donald Trump has never shown a commitment to finding solutions or helping our schools serve students. In the years I spent working in New York City, I never once saw him at a civic event, never saw him engaged in an effort to lift up public education. Now he wants to hand our public schools over to private businesses so they can make a profit—no surprise, from a man whose idea of education can best be summed up in Trump University, a fraudulent enterprise built to rip off hardworking students. As far as I’m concerned, his ideas on public education don’t earn a passing grade.”

Melissa Cropper, Ohio Federation of Teachers president:

“In Ohio, we’ve seen more than enough of the ‘solutions’ Donald Trump is selling, but we’re not buying. Unregulated, unaccountable for-profit charter schools—like the one Trump is visiting today—have destabilized our public districts, defrauded taxpayers, and left our kids and educators worse off, not better. 

“Ohio doesn’t need more snake-oil salesmen to come in and try to sell solutions that don’t solve anything. If Trump wants to discuss real solutions—like how we can hold charters to high standards and ensure they’re serving our kids, how we can reinvest in our neighborhood schools, and how we can return the joy of teaching and learning to our classrooms—I’m ready and willing to have that conversation. But the last thing we need is another billionaire who thinks he knows more about education than the people who spend every day working to give our kids a fair shot.”

David Quolke, Cleveland Federation of Teachers president:

“Earlier this week, we were excited when we heard Trump planned to visit a Cleveland charter school that recently won union representation. We thought maybe he’d have a conversation with the educators and students about what’s really needed—and that our members there could explain to him why they chose to organize and form a union, and how that’s given them a voice to advocate for themselves and their students.

“Sadly, he cancelled that visit and rescheduled at a for-profit chain run by an out-of-state investment firm. I can’t help but wonder if he found out the educators at the first school were unionized and was too scared to face questions from people who chose to join a union. Since he’s fought tooth and nail to keep his own employees from forming a union, it wouldn’t surprise me. 

“Cleveland’s educators have a long history of proud unionism, and our voice has helped win resources and supports to give students a fair chance. I hope that, next time he visits, Donald Trump will visit our traditional public schools and talk to educators about what’s really needed to give kids the education they deserve.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.