November 8 will be a pivotal day for labor unions across the country but especially here in Connecticut. Click here for a full list of AFT endorsed candidates.
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With all the important (and not so important) issues being discussed this election season, it seems like little to no attention has been paid to education. This is unfortunate, because Donald Trump has some of the most extreme and dangerous positions on education that we’ve seen in decades. Trump wants to eliminate the Department of Education, which would undermine public education in this country more severely than anybody could imagine. First of all, this would end Title 1 Funds to Bristol, and to many other cities and towns in Connecticut. Nationally, this would result in an estimated education cut of $15 billion. A study by the Center for American Progress Action Fund estimates that as many as 8 million students would lose Pell Grants annually, and up to $1.3 trillion in loans could be at risk. That same study estimated the loss for Connecticut schools at approximately $639 million.
While this is only one study, it is clear that removing any role of the federal government in education will result in either a drastic reduction in funds, or a much larger financial burden on cities and states. As a district with funding issues every year, I think it’s safe to say that teachers in Bristol would face sharp cuts in salaries, supplies, and education materials under Trump’s plan. And let’s face it, this isn’t just about us as educators. We live in a district where many of our students depend on Pell Grants and other forms of aid through FAFSA to be able to pursue higher education. At the very least, the onus would be shifted to private banks to provide assistance for our students. At the very worst, college would now be out of reach for far too many of our students. This post might seem like an overreaction, but that’s because nobody has seriously considered eliminating the Department of Education in our students’ lifetime. Ronald Reagan advocated it at one time, before realizing it would not benefit students, teachers, or the public who relies on a well-educated citizenry.
I fear that the rhetoric from candidates and their supporters have clouded the viewpoints of many people on the important issues facing our nation. I hope that our union members and their families do the right thing and support Hillary Clinton’s vision for education in America, not Donald Trump’s attempt to undermine and defund our schools.