WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after President Donald Trump spoke of plans to divert money from public education to private schools in his State of the Union address:
“Tonight, in his zeal to decimate public education and siphon money to private schools, the president ignored what he claims to care about: a meaningful investment in school infrastructure that would actually fix crumbling classrooms, tackle asbestos and remove lead in places like Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore.
“Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos have made no secret of their antipathy for public education. Rather than strengthen the cornerstone of our democracy and the chief enabler of pluralism and opportunity, they choose to defund and destabilize it. No amount of rebranding vouchers and privatization as ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’ changes that.
“Parents, communities and educators want freedom, all right: the freedom to fund our kids’ futures and meet our children’s needs. They want investment in the services that make a difference in their lives, not in the private alternatives that further segregate and divide us. Moreover, studies have consistently shown that vouchers fail to improve outcomes and that three-quarters of the public reject them.
“This is a pattern and a practice. Whether it’s escalating health care costs, medical debt, student debt, tax cuts for the wealthy or vouchers in lieu of a lack of investment in schools, the president refuses to solve the issues affecting working people. There are numerous bills right now in the House that could help, but that he chooses to ignore. So it’s no surprise that the vast majority of Americans feel the economy is rigged against them.
“Instead of peddling another tax giveaway for rich people that’s been soundly rejected by Congress, the president should listen to the 90 percent of parents who proudly send their kids to public schools and who have been betrayed by this administration at each and every turn.”