by Brian Washington
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Washington educator Pam Kruse, an 8th grade teacher with 24-years of classroom experience, plans to attend tonight one of the hundreds of town halls taking place nationwide this week during Congress’ April recess.
She sees it as part of her responsibility as an educator and something she owes her students.
I am not going to give up my voice and have someone else do it,” said Kruse. “That’s my job as a citizen, an educator, and an advocate for students.
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate left Washington, D.C. last week and are now back home showing up at local town halls and taking calls and visits from thousands of educators, like Kruse, who are worried about President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ education budget.
The Trump-DeVos budget seeks to slash education funding by a staggering $9 billion dollars. But it sets aside $1.4 billion for private school vouchers. Vouchers, often called some other name that masks the fact that it’s really a voucher scheme, including education savings accounts, tuition tax credits, and opportunity scholarships, use public tax dollars to subsidize tuition at private schools. Vouchers also drain valuable resources away from the 9 out of 10 students who are educated in our public schools.
Kruse says the town hall she’s attending is supposed to focus on Russian ties to the Trump administration. When asked if she thinks education will come up, she says it definitely will—because she will bring it up.
“I will raise my hand and say, ‘Let’s talk about education,’”said Kruse. “And I am hoping others will say, ‘Yeah, tell me more about Trump’s budget and his positions on vouchers and privatization.’”
Kruse, like many other Education Votes readers, has seen news footage of how energized the crowds can be at these town halls. At a recent town hall in Arkansas, U.S. Senator Tom Cotton faced a backlash when the subject of President Trump not releasing his tax returns came up (see video below).
However, Kruse doesn’t expect anything like that to happen at tonight’s town hall, which will feature U.S. Representative Dennis Heck of the state’s 10 congressional district. Kruse calls Heck a progressive who is a friend to public education. Nevertheless, she believes it’s still important for her and other pro-public education activists to show up at tonight’s town hall and get engaged.
“You have to be a part of the process,” said Kruse. “You can’t assume Representative Heck is going to vote the way you want him to on an issue if you haven’t explained to him why that issue is important to students, their families, and our communities. We can’t rely on someone else to do it.”
Want to learn how you can speak up for students at a townhall event? Watch our training below!