Press Release

AFT President Randi Weingarten: ‘This Budget Takes a Meat Cleaver to Public Education’

For Release: 

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Janet Bass

WASHINGTON—Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten on President Donald Trump’s budget.

“This budget takes a meat cleaver to public education. These are the biggest cuts to the education budget we can recall—even during times of great fiscal stress. Only someone who doesn’t know what public schools do and what kids need would contemplate or countenance these kinds of cuts. 

“This budget also includes both backdoor and ‘front-door’ voucher programs that further the Trump administration’s ideological crusade against public education. The Title I ‘portability’ included is a backdoor voucher scheme that was expressly rejected in the recently enacted bipartisan federal education law. 

“These cuts, if enacted, will turn into real-life effects on kids. They do what we feared would happen when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was nominated: defund public schools with the aim of destabilizing and destroying them. By slashing community schools, professional development and class-size funding, they are cutting what works to help students succeed:

  • Community schools meet poverty head-on to level the playing field for kids. In places like Cincinnati and New York, community learning centers are increasing the confidence parents have in their kids’ schools, and we are seeing higher graduation rates, attendance and achievement.
  • Lowering class size is vital to ensuring we meet the individual needs of every child.  
  • Professional development is critical for educators to be able to refine their craft and move new ideas and curriculum in the classroom—just like any corporation would need to train people when implementing a new product or strategy. 
  • And cuts to the Labor Department budget for training will jeopardize ensuring workers have the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

“When DeVos was nominated, we warned that she would use her office to wage an ideological attack against public education, and this budget is the latest confirmation of her efforts to rob the future to push failed voucher strategies.”

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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.