The president of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) is urging members of his Party to refuse to serve in the U.S. Department of Education under President Donald Trump, citing an agenda he describes as threatening “grave harm” to children.
Shavar Jeffries writes in a statement Thursday in response to the fact that lists of potential education secretary candidates in the future Trump administration include some Democrats, such as Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of Washington, D.C. schools, and Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools.
“It is, generally speaking, an honor for any person of any political persuasion to be asked by the President of the United States to consider a Cabinet-level appointment, but in the case of President-elect Trump, DFER encourages no Democrat to accept an appointment to serve as Secretary of Education in this new administration,” Jeffries asserts. “In so doing, that individual would become an agent for an agenda that both contradicts progressive values and threatens grave harm to our nation’s most vulnerable kids.”
The policies and rhetoric of President-elect Trump run contrary to the most fundamental values of what it means to be a progressive committed to educating our kids and strengthening our families and communities. He proposes to eliminate accountability standards, cut Title I funding, and to gut support for vital social services that maximize our students’ ability to reach their potential. And, most pernicious, Trump gives both tacit and express endorsement to a dangerous set of racial, ethnic, religious, and gender stereotypes that assault the basic dignity of our children, causing incalculable harm not only to their sense of self, but also to their sense of belonging as accepted members of school communities and neighborhoods.
“For these reasons, no Democrat should accept appointment as Secretary of Education, unless and until President-elect Trump disavows his prior statements and commits to educating the whole child and supporting the communities and families they depend on,” Jeffries says.
While on the campaign trail, Trump said he will be “the biggest cheerleader for school choice” and spend $20 billion to establish a block grant to fund school choice for children living in low-income areas.
Public schools are “our government-run monopoly” that has “trapped millions of African-American and Hispanic youth in failing government schools that deny them the opportunity to join the ladder of American success,” Trump said in a speech in September, adding:
I want every single inner city child in America who is today trapped in a failing school to have the freedom – the civil right – to attend the school of their choice. This includes private schools, traditional public schools, magnet schools and charter schools which must be included in any definition of school choice.
“Our government spends more than enough money to easily pay for this initiative – with billions left over,” Trump said. “It’s simply a matter of putting students first, not the education bureaucracy.”