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Congressman Ro Khanna

Representing the 17th District of California

Fight Trump’s effort to hurt public education

May 26, 2017
Editorials
Ro Khanna

More than half a million students go to public school each day across Alameda and Santa Clara counties. These schools and educators are preparing children for a life of success and instilling in them a common language of democracy.

Public education and public service go hand in hand. At a time when we as a nation are facing a potential constitutional crisis in Washington and families feel threatened by the discriminatory policies of the Trump administration, public schools serve an important role in fostering a sense of citizenship and strengthening trust in our institutions.

If our country is going to continue to grow and thrive in the 21st century, it is crucial that we fully fund public education at all levels. Every child, regardless of one’s socioeconomic background, should have an equal opportunity to succeed.

Yet, the White House has different priorities. It is proposing a $9.2 billion cut to public education funding, while funneling an additional $54 billion for national defense. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s agenda of privatization and radical budget cuts undermine the very principle of public education. These cuts would devastate how every state supports preK-12 students, from special education to teacher development to after school programs, with more than $395 million on the line for these programs in California.

As a public-school graduate and the son of a public-school teacher, I believe the best gift we can give our children is quality, accessible education. Growing up in Pennsylvania, it was my experiences at school and the teachers I had who inspired me to pursue a career in public service.

At a time when our economy is transitioning from an also industrial age to a digital age, our public schools are at the front lines of giving every student a fair shot to excel in the new economy.

It is particularly apparent in Silicon Valley that the United States needs to invest more in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education initiatives. However, the Trump administration does not think that’s the case. The White House offered a budget of $0.00 (yes, you read that right) for enrichment programs that help schools pay for AP classes and offer science and engineering instruction to students.

Instead of devaluing public education and student success by slashing the Department of Education budget in favor of $1.1 billion for private school voucher funding, the Trump administration should be doubling up on supporting public-school students and teachers.

We need an increase in arts education funding and gifted programs for the nation to spawn the next Steve Jobs. We need more investment in technical education for students to learn the high-tech skills employers want. We need to support low-income kids and put them on the path to college through an increase in Title I funding. We need more teacher training programs and provide them with enrichment opportunities to apply in the classroom.

The students of today are going to become the teachers, entrepreneurs, and public servants of tomorrow who will build our civic institutions. Public education is the bedrock of American democracy. The radical privatization and defunding of our schools is one of the worst offenses of this administration will have on the future of our nation.

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