by: JC Bowman
The election of Donald Trump sent shockwaves throughout the Washington DC establishment. For many years our citizens have grown distrustful of our federal government and those who govern. It is why those outside the establishment did much better than those within.
When Donald Trump is inaugurated as President of the United States, his education advisors should remind him that out of the roughly 55.5 million K-12 students in America, 49.5 million of them are in our public schools, which is a little over 89%. So, while his campaign buzzwords of more “school choice” and “ending common core” were popular sound bites, they are also somewhat naïve. Overall, what is needed is less federal intrusion.
As President, Donald Trump and his administration would be wise to start reaching out to public school educators. Not all educators are members of the NEA or AFT. In fact, nationally, there are more educators that are members of independent education associations, like the Keystone Teachers Association, than the AFT. Most of the independent organizations do not endorse political candidates, or use their members’ dues to fund political candidates. It is a sharp distinction and we encourage the Trump Administration to quickly reach out to these groups.
The Trump team should also put a mandate in place that stops compulsory unionism in public education in non-right to work states, such as Pennsylvania. Thomas Jefferson hailed America as a society that is formally democratic and individualist. Jefferson once wrote: “…to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.” Teacher unions, which once served a noble purpose of helping teachers and children, have unfortunately become funding machines to politicians and many non-educational causes. We believe in the rights of educators to be members of any organization that reflects their values, but they should never be forced to join as a condition of employment.
A strong public educational system is essential not only to the successful functioning of a democracy, but also to its future. That system must provide all children with an equitable and exceptional education that prepares them for college, career and life
We encourage Mr. Trump to go out and visit our public schools and see the incredible things that educators are doing every day across our nation. We think he would be amazed.
JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.
Carol Yeagy is the Executive Director of the Keystone Teachers Association of Pennsylvania, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.