We must not allow the talk and tweets from this White House to distract us from the radical changes being proposed by Congress. These congressional changes will affect the lives of each of us. For many, the changes will be overwhelming and detrimental. HR 610 is one example of a bill with such potentially bad outcomes.

HR 610, a bill before the U.S. House of Representatives, proposes catastrophic changes to our American public education system that will harm child growth and development, particularly for children in poverty, children of color and children with disabilities.

This bill eliminates the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the basis of the nation’s modern education system that guarantees equal access to education for children from kindergarten through Grade 12. The bill implements a school voucher system for children ages 5 to 17 and, in effect, begins the long-term process of defunding public schools.

Additionally, the Every Student Succeeds Act – the comprehensive law to sustain English as a Second Language programs, classes for minorities, rural education, education for the homeless and school safety – is scheduled to be dismantled.

Finally, HR 610 abolishes the Nutritional Act of 2012, which has proven essential for the improved health of so many children in our state and throughout the country.

We must educate ourselves on these and other radical changes being proposed and take action to preserve our educational systems. Contacting our leaders in Congress should be just the beginning of exercising our rights and responsibilities as citizens to preserve the health and welfare of all.

Karen R. Johnson