Mexico will not pay for Donald Trump’s wall. Your children will. And your children’s children will pay the interest, as will their children—and perhaps the children of several generations to come. This week, Donald Trump
unveiled his immoral budget proposal, which aims to slash the U.S. Education Department budget for the third year in a row, this year in excess of 10 percent. As proposed, this plan would slash $7.1 billion from the current budget, effectively gutting programs that support teachers, students, and schools across the United States. Although Title I, special education, and career and technical education funding is set to remain flat, programs for teacher professional development, enrichment services, and after-school programs have been targeted for elimination. Programs that focus on American history, civics education, literacy, and the arts are also at risk. Further, the proposal eliminates subsidized student loans, public service loan forgiveness, limits income-driven student loan repayment plans, and calls for a reduction to Pell Grant reserves. In contrast, this proposal recommends a $60 million increase in spending on federal charter school grants, which will funnel even more money from the Department of Education. Some of that money will directly benefit for-profit charter schools. Profits, in this case, are the tax dollars that the for-profit schools won’t spend on your children, but pay to themselves in the form of high wages and bonuses.
All children—red states and blue, public school and charter—will come together as one collective victim to the fiscal whims of Donald Trump. It is not lost on me that Donald Trump is demanding just over $8 billion dollars for his wall—remarkably similar to the amount he would like to take away from our schools. He could not get the money he wanted from Mexico and he could not get it from Congress, so he will do what every playground bully does—he will take the money he needs. He will take it from the Department of Education, from our schools, and from our children. As he builds that wall with our children’s futures, he will also increase the funding needed to detain children and cage them at our borders. And since he is still $1 billion dollars short, he will take the remainder from your grandparents by cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that comprise the social safety net. This is much more than a budget proposal. It is a window to the heart and soul of our president—he has shown us his cards. He promised he would not cut Social Security or Medicare. He promised to support education. Yet, these are the programs he intends to dismantle. He promised to uphold our Constitution but
he cages children at our borders in violation of child protective service laws in every U.S. state and territory. Promises made, promises broken. Mr. Trump, if you want so badly to build walls, then I invite you to build school walls. If you cannot do that, then at least refrain from tearing down the education system we do have.
Brett Bigham is the 2014 Oregon State Teacher of the Year and a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. He is the only Oregon special education teacher to be named Teacher of the Year and to win the NEA National Award for Teaching Excellence. He is the creator of Ability Guidebooks, a series of support books for people with autism that give step-by-step directions how to ...