To Donald Trump:
As a force of 1100 public school educators consisting of guidance counselors, social workers, clerks, paraprofessionals, early childhood staff, attendance officers, security officers, and teachers comprising the Camden Education Association, I am writing this open letter to you to communicate our thorough disapproval for the direction you are currently taking this country and our children.
While it is generally believed that school staff is not supposed to communicate their personal politics within our schools, we are also at the same time held to a standard of being protectors and examples for children. For the better part of three years, we Camden City School District educators have watched in unrelenting horror as the supposed “leader of the free world” mocks the disabled, calls countries inhabited with Black and Latino people “s-hole countries” https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/11/politics/immigrants-shithole-countries-trump/index.html , refers to some Nazis and members of the KKK as “fine people” ( https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-defends-both-sides-charlottesville-comments-with-a-new-falsehood_n_5cc30c9de4b08846403d585d ) , calls people practicing their Constitutional right to free speech “SoBs” ( https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/22/donald-trump-nfl-national-anthem-protests ), encourages violence among rally attendees, and brags about sexually assaulting women – and these are only examples of things you’ve verbalized.
Pertaining to your actions which matters much more, your pardoning a convicted felon in Joe Arpaio ( https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/25/donald-trump-joe-arpaio-pardon-arizona-sheriff ) who was held in contempt for refusing to comply with laws barring racial profiling, your apparent and obvious obstructing of justice throughout the Mueller Investigation, and your refusal to be transparent with what you are plainly hiding in your tax returns, are simply just the tip of the corrupt and empty iceberg your presidency embodies. While ignoring a litany of instances that should rightfully leave this nation’s public alarmed and deeply troubled, it is your recent decisions to ramp up mass deportations of our Latino neighbors and their families by ICE ( https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/14/politics/ice-raids-undocumented-immigrants/index.html ), the latest proposal to cut SNAP benefits (food stamps) for families and school lunches for children ( https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-plan-failed-note-it-could-jeopardize-free-school-lunches-n1035281 ) is where we educators finally say “enough”, and wish to go on the record in doing so.
Camden is a city that roughly 50% Black, and 50% Latino, and despite the politically-oriented narrative citing the perceived successes of Camden Rising, our city is still one of the poorest in the nation. The recent policies you Donald Trump, along with your sycophants, are championing are harming Camden’s children – our children. Our students who themselves may be immigrants, or have family members who are immigrants – that contribute to making Camden the special place that it is, have lived in fear since the November 2016. Because of you. Our students’ and their families who rely on food stamp benefits and the school lunches our schools provide for them risk long-term harm with the policies you Donald Trump, along with your sycophants, are championing that will literally take food off their tables and out of their mouths.
These students are ours, and we care for them deeply which is why we collectively must finally say to publicly: Enough! One value, of which there are many, we CEA educators try to model for our young people, is to always treat one another with dignity and respect and that bullying is never acceptable. Over the years we’ve watched, appalled, as you’ve bullied women, gay people, Muslims, Black people, Hispanic people, Jewish people, poor people, and people with disabilities, but not just through hateful speech, but predatory policies as well. And while it would be nice for educators in our schools to be able to point to the President as an example for how we ought to conduct ourselves and treat our neighbors, you sadly are no such example for our children. But in this moment of your hate-filled presidency, you’ve given us Camden educators this opportunity to reaffirm our care for this community and our students, while standing up to a bully. You.
Keith E. Benson, Ed. D
Camden Education Association