With President Donald Trump expecting to overhaul the federal education system, South County educators geared up to potentially fight back against any drastic changes made to student rights and education.
South County teachers and education officials gathered at Sweetwater Union High School on Monday to discuss how to combat potential threats against the rights to LGBT, Muslim and undocumented students under the Trump administration.
“I really strongly believe that the only way we’re going to beat Trump may not be at the ballot box this year,” said Theresa Montaño, vice-president of the California Teachers Association,who was part of a four-person panelist talking about standing up against the possible changes to education. . “He can either paralyze us or galvanize us, he can either divide us or unite us.”
Trump has nominated Betsy Devous for Secretary of Education. Devous has been critized by local teachers for her support of charter schools, private schools and her lack of support for public education.
Montaño also urged teachers to defend their students when there is a violation of their rights on campus. She also said it is important for teachers to stand behind their unions when coming to defense of their students.
Three South County school districts – Sweetwater Union High School, Chula Vista Elementary School District and the National School District- have passed resolutions making every school in their district safe zones and resource centers for their students and families.
Creating safe zones on campus allows students of all genders, races, religions and sexual orientation to receive a quality of education without worrying about school officials reporting them or working with the federal government in enforcing the law.
Chula Vista Elementary School District trustee and principal at Bonita Vista Middle School Eduardo Reyes said it is not known yet how Trump would change the public education system across the United States but local school districts must be prepared just in case there are changes.
“The whole rhetoric that came from (Trump’s) campaign and the choice he made for secretary of education [Betsy Devos], we do have fears of his support for the privatization of schools, support for charter schools and voucher [schools] which will affect not only Chula Vista Elementary School District but all public education,” Reyes said.
Reyes also said it is time for everyone in education to unite in the interest of students.
“I think right now is the time where it doesn’t matter if you’re classified staff, you’re a teacher, administrator, board member, (work in) the district office, all of us have the same goal which is to ensure student success, student safety, so right now it’s time for all of us to come together and fight for students.”