News & Event
February 23, 2017 - National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) President Larry Purtill today released the following statement with regard to President Trump’s revocation of guidance for public schools allowing transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity put in place by former President Obama:
“We’ve been told since the election that the LGBTQ community had nothing to worry about with a President Trump. Yet at his first opportunity he chooses to attack LGBTQ youth. It’s offensive and disgraceful.
It is important to note that Rhode Island state law bans discrimination with regard to public accommodations – including public schools – based on gender identity or expression. Transgender students are today and should always be protected and NEARI will aggressively fight any efforts to roll back policies that keep all children safe from intimidation and harm.
Rescinding federal guidance does not undo legal protections for transgender students. Transgender students are protected by the Constitution and Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex. This includes when using restrooms and other school facilities.
We will do everything possible to protect, welcome and embrace our transgender students. Every, and I mean every, student deserves that and I will be asking RIDE to take this opportunity to recommit to the existing state law and guidance already in place.
We will not turn our backs on these students. In fact, we’ve got their backs! Politics among adults is one thing, but not protecting every student is outrageous and will not be tolerated.
All students yearn to feel comfortable in their skin and find their place in this world. This holds especially true for LGBTQ youth. It’s easy sometimes when using acronyms to really remember their meaning. The “T” stands for transgender and today and every day we will stand with our transgender students.”
If educators, administrators, parents and students see any act of discrimination or witness bullying or threatening behavior, please report it immediately to your local officials, NEARI (401-463-9630) or GLBTQ Advocates and Defenders (GLAD: 617-426-1350).
WASHINGTON - February 22, 2017 - The Trump administration is planning to release a new plan to rescind federal guidance to protect transgender students from discrimination. The National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union, reiterated its pledge to double-down on protecting the civil rights of our LGBTQ students and members.
Withdrawing the guidance does not change the law. As most courts have held, Title IX protects transgender students, and only courts, and ultimately the Supreme Court, can change that. Schools have a legal and a moral duty to support all students, including transgender students. In fact, states, school districts, and schools nationwide are supporting and affirming transgender students, and we believe they will continue to do so with or without guidance from the Trump administration.
The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:
“Every student matters, and every student has the right to feel safe, welcomed, and valued in our public schools. This is our legal, ethical and moral obligation. The Trump administration’s plans to reverse protections for transgender students by rescinding the Title IX guidance, is dangerous, ill-advised, and unnecessary.
“We reject this discriminatory plan because it is a drastic departure from our core values. We don’t teach hate, we do not tell people how to pray, and we do not discriminate against people based on their religion, gender, or identity. Period.
“As the Trump administration threatens our students and our values, we will double-down on our efforts to protect our most vulnerable citizens, including our LGBTQ students and members. We urge more states, school districts, and schools to adopt protections for transgender students. We owe to our students because they need to see us take a bold stand against discrimination whatever form it takes.”
WASHINGTON - On November 23, 2016, the Trump administration announced its plan to nominate Betsy DeVos, best known for her anti-public education campaigns, for the position of Secretary of Education. The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. Below is a statement from NEA Rhode Island (NEARI) President Larry Purtill:
"Betsy DeVos is the most exceptionally unqualified cabinet nominee in history with zero experience in public education, administration or even as a parent of a public school student. Unfortunately, the Senate chose to ignore the thousands of voices from across the country who joined together to clog phone lines and flood inboxes in opposition to her and the Trump-DeVos agenda.
"The DeVos confirmation does not magically silence our voices. The massive nationwide public outcry by educators, administrators, parents, students, civil rights groups, special education advocates and others is just the beginning. The level of activism we have seen is incredibly encouraging and we will continue to resist policies detrimental to public education and work together to protect our students and educators.
"On behalf of our 12,000 members, I’d like to thank Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline who, with their Democratic colleagues, fought tooth and nail to quash this nomination.
"They never gave up and neither will we."
Members have reached out to needy students through the Children's Fund since 1985. During the holidays, their generosity is overwhelming.
This December, the NEARI Children’s Fund celebrated 26 years of its anonymous gift-giving program, the Gingerbread Express. Nearly 1500 needy students were connected with generous NEARI members and friends, who shopped for holiday presents according to the students' needs and desires.
The Gingerbread Express helped students in South Kingstown, Cumberland, East Providence, Chariho, Providence, Westerly, Burrillville, North Kingstown, Narragansett, and Newport. Some gifts are filtered through the NEARI office, while other local NEARI unions collect their own names and find their own donors. In addition, many classrooms across the state adopt names as a group project. Parents preserve the pride of their children by discreetly picking up their gifts in their respective school offices.
In one case, however, the Gingerbread Express arrives with a flourish. On December 16, Providence’s D’Abate School received a tractor-trailer delivery, courtesy of Teamsters Local 251, which transported the huge gift packages donors purchased for every one of its 400-plus children. NEARI has adopted D’Abate every year since the program began, due to the economic level of its students.
Helping with gift donations this year were companies that adopted large groups of children.
Thanks go to:
The NEARI Children’s Fund was established in 1985 to answer the needs of students coming to school without the basic necessities, such as proper clothing, eyeglasses, school supplies, and more. Any member of the organization may nominate a student for assistance, which is generally provided within 24 hours.
The Children's Fund is fueled by donations and fundraisers. Learn how you can support the Children's Fund all year long!
Find out how
Call the NEARI Children's Fund directly if you see a student in need. The coordinator is Val Staples, and she can be reached at 401-463-9630 ext. 304, or email@example.com.
NCLB - No Child Left Behind - is the federal education law that has imposed unrealistic mandates on states for the last 14 years. Specifically, its "test, blame, and punish" approach tied federal education aid into standardized test performance. Now, thanks to members' activism, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are poised to make significant improvements.
There stands an excellent chance that by the new year, President Obama will have signed a new, vastly improved national education law – the seventh reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Ending NCLB and replacing it with a law that focuses on opportunity for all students is a goal that NEA has been focused on throughout the process.
In July, both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives passed ESEA reauthorizations – the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) and the Student Success Act (SSA), respectively. The two bills are similar in some ways and different in others. It is these differences that Senate and House education committee staff and leaders are ironing out to produce a joint, bipartisan ESEA bill that President Obama can sign into law.
Specifically, NEA believes that the final bill should:
The Senate, in particular, addressed all these key issues. Unfortunately, the current House version includes so-called "Title I Portability," which permits federal funding for disadvantaged children to "follow" students to a public school of their choice (essentially a backdoor to vouchers), which NEA strongly opposes. Read more about the voucher expansion.
Nothing is certain with Congress – bills can be easily derailed – but the finish line for ESEA reauthorization is in sight, and educators and parents have been urging lawmakers to stay focused and deliver a new law. In early November, a coalition of ten leading education and parent organizations, including the NEA, launched a digital campaign urging Congress to "get ESEA done."
Our Rhode Island Congressional delegation - Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, and Rep. Jim Langevin and David Cicciline - has been 100 percent in agreement with NEA's position, and has been working to achieve a new ESEA. Thank them for their efforts on behalf of all students.
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