Education Champions Respond to DACA Repeal
September 8, 2017

Following President Trump’s announcement that he will phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months, leaders across the country as well as advocates in the Network are speaking out, many calling upon Congress to create a legislative solution.

Fifteen states plus Washington, D.C. are already suing the U.S. Government in an attempt to block the President’s plan, and five former education secretaries, serving under both Democratic and Republican administrations, recently sent this letter to Congress urging them to find a legislative path forward.

Why are advocates for education reform weighing in so forcefully? We’ve gathered statements released from across the Network to answer that question. We share the profound concern these and other statements express about the impact of this action on so many children, teachers, and families.

As the bipartisan group of former education secretaries wrote, DACA recipients “are American in every way but their paperwork … We must not, we cannot, let these children down.”

Checker Finn of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute weighed in on what he called “Trump’s cruel move” to end DACA, sharing his personal experiences with a DACA recipient. He explains, “He’s not only a proper American, he’s the kind we need many more of.”

Current Fordham president Michael Petrilli shared this on Twitter:

The Education Trust’s CEO John King, who also signed on to the letter from former education secretaries, described the decision as “irresponsible and immoral,” reminding readers:

“Our diversity is what makes us stronger. The very fabric of America is threaded from the hands of immigrants whose contributions are absolutely vital to our democracy and our future.”

In a statement on Facebook, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Founder, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, said “it would also be unconscionable to repeal DACA without ensuring Congress provides a legislative solution.”

Educators for Excellence members have been championing this issue for months, with over 1200 educators signing on to a letter asking Trump to support DACA earlier this year. They’re planning a teleconference for educators next week in partnership with Stand for Children, The Education Trust, Teach for America, and the American Federation of Teachers.

Stand for Children CEO Jonah Edelman described the decision as “absolutely shameful” and a “fundamental breach of our national values.” The organization has launched an action campaign calling on Congress to create a permanent legislative solution.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) has dedicated a section of its website to the DACA issue, including multiple reports on the economic consequences. Additionally, CAP released the Dream Act Toolkit to encourage voters to reach out to lawmakers.

The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) said the decision betrays the trust of DACA recipients “and is a demoralizing blow to a community pursuing the American dream.”

Earlier this month, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools urged stakeholders to contact their members of Congress, pushing for a permanent solution for DACA recipients.

Democrats for Education Reform took to Twitter to criticize the decision as “heartless and cruel,” adding, “We stand with #Dreamers today and every day.”

And the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) urged Congress to pass legislation that codifies protections for DACA recipients, celebrating their accomplishments and contributions: “We applaud those who have moved forward in their education and their lives and become contributing participants to our workforce and our communities.”

Some of the top funders in education advocacy also expressed concerns.

Bill Gates shared, “Dreamers represent the best instincts of this country and the tradition that the great experiment of the United States is made better by people from other places coming here to dedicate their talents and commitment to continuing to move our country forward.”

Marc Sternberg of the Walton Family Foundation described his personal experience with DACA recipients and then said, “Elected officials must create a policy solution and prevent the students, teachers and young adults affected by DACA from becoming the target of a political battle.”

State advocates have also responded in force. NYCAN wrote on Twitter, “No child’s learning should be uncertain.”

EdAllies executive director Daniel Sellers shared similar concerns, noting, “Children and educators deserve to learn, work, and live free from such uncertainty.”

The Chalkboard Project echoed this saying, “We’re particularly concerned with the insecurity, disruption, and trauma this action will inflict in our classrooms and schools for educators, students, and parents.”

Executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest, Amber Arellano, shared her own family’s path to citizenship and wrote:

“There are times in our country’s history when we have gotten lost…I believe we are living through this type of a moment now.”

GO Public Schools issued a press release quoting its CEO Jonathan Klein as well as the voices of educators in the state. “Many DACA recipients have taken jobs giving back to their communities, often as teachers and other school employees. The result is that schools face a double hit—to students and alumni, and to staff.”

Ryan Smith, executive director of The Education Trust-West, says the decision is “unconscionable, inhumane, and moves our country backwards.” Ed Trust-West also shared the relevance of the DACA program to California’s 240,000 recipients, more than in any other state.

Lisa Keegan, executive director A for Arizona, reaffirmed support for DACA recipients: “Our largest student majority is Hispanic, the vast majority of those students are citizens of Arizona and the United States, and 100 percent of those students are our students.”

“We are invested in them for life.”

Expect More Arizona shared this statement on their Facebook page: “If we are going to achieve the education goals we’ve set out as a state, it is critical that we support all students, including the approximately 60,000 DACA students in Arizona.”

ConnCAN spoke out on its Facebook page, arguing, “ConnCAN rejects the notion that the country’s best interest lies in tearing families and communities apart. In addition to the moral arguments … ending DACA would cost Connecticut alone more than $300 million annually in lost GDP.”

The Education Trust-New York raised awareness about the scope of DACA recipients in the Empire State through a Twitter graphic.


We will continue to update this compendium as more statements are released. If we missed something, please reach out.

Suzanne Tacheny Kubach

Suzanne is PIE Network's Executive Director

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