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NEA President Lily Eskelsen García: Trump should stand up for students and families

Trump’s decisions and policies will continue to hurt real people

WASHINGTON - February 28, 2017 -

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García today released the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s first Joint Address to the United States Congress.

“President Donald Trump promised to unite the country, and to stand up for students and working families. Sadly, since taking the oath of office, he’s done nothing but break those promises. In fact, he’s been making decisions that are dividing us and has pursued policies that are hurting real people.

“Consider his selection of Betsy DeVos as education secretary. Educators believe America is a country where all children have the right to a public education regardless of family circumstances or ZIP code. Yet, despite public outcry and growing opposition, Trump and DeVos are pursuing a failed agenda that will steal taxpayer dollars from public education to fund private schools through a national voucher program. The Trump-DeVos agenda does nothing to provide opportunity to all students.

“Trump’s recent decisions undermine our job and, more importantly, our moral standing in the world. His ill-advised, discriminatory, and harmful decisions are aimed at separating families, banning refugees and Muslims, and rolling back protections of our most vulnerable students. We reject all of this. This is not who we are. We don’t teach hate, we do not tell people how to pray, and we do not discriminate against people based on their ethnicity, religion, gender, or identity.

“We also deserve a Supreme Court justice who will protect students and stand up for public education. Trump missed an opportunity to nominate to the Supreme Court someone who will protect the rights of our students and educators. Nearly every issue that affects our public school students and educators makes its way to the Supreme Court—from protections for special education students and transgender students to protections for workers—Trump’s nominee has failed to stand up for students and their families.

“And with respect to health care, it’s time for Trump to come clean to the American people: his promise to provide better coverage for less cost is empty rhetoric. The Affordable Care Act expanded coverage to more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans and established crucial patient protections. We will continue to defend the law, this country’s health care safety net, and quality, affordable coverage for children and working families.

“While Trump has the opportunity to reach out to all Americans tonight, we can expect that the past will serve as prologue and he will double-down on his divisive and ill-conceived policies that the majority of Americans are rejecting. Regardless, educators will continue to stand up for all students and for the promise of public education.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez 
(202) 822-7823,