Budget Cuts, Voucher Programs Take Center Stage At National Education Association Meeting

Jul 5, 2017

The country’s largest teacher’s union, the National Education Association, wraps up its 155th annual meeting Wednesday, in Boston.

Twenty-five teachers and support staff, representing 28 Rhode Island communities, joined educators from across the nation.  

The Trump administration has proposed a 13.5 percent, $9.2 billion, cut to education. President of the NEA- Rhode Island, Larry Purtill, says those cuts took center stage at this year’s meeting.

“They’re proposing massive cuts for after school programs, cuts in the arts, money that would help reduce class size -- and those all help students that are coming from poverty and could use those programs,” Purtill said.

Another concern for the NEA this year was voucher programs.

“Take for example vouchers where parents may get some money to send students to whatever school they want,” Purtill said. “That drains money out of the existing schools and when you do that, programs that these students really need like afterschool programs, sports programs, health services—all that gets cut.”

President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have been proponents of school choice and vouchers. They argue the programs makes schools competitive in efforts to maintain enrollment.