Vow to protect students and public schools

NJEA’s officers, President Wendell Steinhauer, Vice President Marie Blistan and Secretary-Treasurer Sean M. Spiller, released a joint statement today condemning President Trump’s Executive Order targeting immigrants from several majority-Muslim nations. They also condemned his other words and actions which have contributed to a climate of fear and distrust that is affecting the wellbeing of students and others.

“President Trump’s recent actions targeting people of the Muslim faith is an affront to all that we hold dear, both as educators and as Americans. Along with the 200,000 members of the New Jersey Education Association, we have dedicated our lives to helping secure and strengthen American civil society through public education. We teach our students the United States Constitution. We teach our students the principles of democracy. We teach our students the horrors that occur when societies begin to segregate and demonize people based on race, religion or political beliefs.

“The Trump administration has employed rhetoric, and is now taking actions, that undermine American democracy. The President and those around him have created a climate of fear and distrust that is harmful to all of us, but particularly to the children we educate. As educators, advocates and leaders, we pledge to do all that we can to resist any and every action by this administration that could harm our students.

“Our members have witnessed firsthand the despair of students who wonder if our nation still welcomes them.  Our members have seen students crying because they feared their parents might be deported while they are at school. They have seen students become targets of bullying that echoes that hateful rhetoric of the Trump campaign and now the Trump administration.

“We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that New Jersey’s public schools remain safe, welcoming spaces for everyone. We will do everything we can to protect the civil and human rights of our students, their families and our members from this unprecedented and un-American attack. We call on every person of goodwill to join us in condemning xenophobia, racism and religious discrimination. We call on every person of goodwill to join us in defending American democracy by defending one of our greatest democratic institutions: our public schools.”

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