The president of the nation’s largest teachers union said it would not work with the Trump administration, insisting that President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are an actual danger to students.
“I will not allow the National Education Association (NEA) to be used by Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos,” Lily Eskelsen García, president of the NEA, said Sunday. “I do not trust their motives. I do not believe their alternative facts. I see no reason to assume they will do what is best for our students and their families.”
García, who was elected in 2014, has been a constant critic of the president and Devos. When Trump selected Devos as head of the Department of Education, the union leader came out strongly in opposition of her nomination.
“By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities,” García said at the time.
The NEA, which is not only the largest teachers union but also the nation’s largest union period with over 3 million members, focused its influential advocacy arm on efforts to block DeVos’s nomination.
“We will find common ground with many Republicans and many Democrats on many issues,”García asserted. “We will not find common ground with an administration that is cruel and callous to our children and their families. And I don’t just judge them by their words; I judge them by their actions.”
DeVos, who served as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996-2000 and then again in 2003, has been a strong advocate for alternatives to the traditional public school model. Her advocacy and philanthropy reportedly irks the education establishment. She has tackled the status quo by fighting for “school choice” and pro-charter school laws.
“I don’t think you will find one human being who could actually point to something who could say, Because she did this, it really improved those traditional, neighborhood public schools,” García said before Devos’s hearing in January. “What you’re seeing here is a train wreck waiting to happen.”
DeVos has pushed for educational choice, whether charter schools, school vouchers, or tuition tax credits. She was the champion of the charter-school law in her home state of Michigan. Critics of DeVos also said that her nomination would threaten special education funding and aid to poorer schools and students.
The NEA endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president during the 2016 presidential campaign. The union apparently displayed a pro-Clinton banner from its Washington, D.C. headquarters in the lead up to the race, according to the Washington Examiner.
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