by Félix Pérez
Hillary Clinton will consult educators when making decisions about education and is committed to making sure every child receives a world-class education, no matter what ZIP code they live in, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president told the more than 7,500 energized educators gathered in the nation’s capital. Clinton’s pledge, part of remarks she delivered this morning, was met with resounding approval.
“I want to say, right from the outset, that I’m with you. And if I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, educators will have a partner in the White House – and you’ll always have a seat at the table,” said the former U.S. Secretary of State.
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For more than 30 minutes, the educators stood as Clinton laid out her vision for public education and the heightened role of educators.
“Just like you, I get up every day and ask: How can we do better for America’s kids?
“I’m committed to making sure every child in this country receives a world-class education, with good schools and good teachers, no matter what ZIP code they live in. That means supporting parents to be their child’s first teachers, expanding access to high-quality childcare and universal preschool. Repairing our crumbling schools, and investing in training and support for our educators,” she said.
The educators punctuated Clinton’s fiery remarks several times with applause, chants of Hil-la-ry and the insistent thump-thump-thump of thunder sticks. Her remarks were delivered at the National Education’s 95th Representative Assembly, attended by active and retired teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty and staff, and pre-K instructors.
The educators were transparent in their approval of Clinton’s remarks and her candidacy. Six hours after her remarks, they voted to recommend Clinton for the general election by a margin of 84 percent to 16 percent.
Clinton recognized the societal burden placed on educators and the need for community- and educator-led solutions to address the obstacles faced by many students.
“So much of what happens inside your classrooms is determined by what happens outside your classrooms.
“Too many of our public school students are living in poverty. That’s on all of us. You see students coming to school hungry, or exhausted from a long night at a shelter. So many kids have the weight of the world on their little shoulders.
“We need to tackle all the problems holding our kids back – and we need to do it together, as one American community. Let’s create more community schools – and more partnerships between schools, social services and non-profit organizations to offer a range of support and opportunities for kids.
Clinton also referenced the increasing demands on educators.
America is asking more of our educators than ever before. You’re preparing our kids for a competitive economy and staying on top of new technologies and theories. We look to you to fill in gaps that we as a country have neglected – like giving low-income kids, English-language learners, and kids with disabilities the support they need to thrive. And we ask you to help right wrongs – from poverty and homelessness to the legacy of racial inequities stretching back centuries. We ask so much of you – and we don’t give you enough in return.
“As president, I’ll launch a national campaign to modernize and elevate the profession of teaching.”
Clinton spoke about the low salary of educators.
“No educator should have to take second and third jobs just to get by. And the last thing a teacher needs when you’re just starting out is a mountain of student debt. I want everyone to be able to refinance your student loans, so you never have to pay more than you can afford. For people who go into public service – including teaching – any remaining debt will be forgiven after 10 years.”
The former First Lady of the United States and U.S. Senator was also critical of the low pay of education support professionals.
“It’s an outrage that so many of the food service staff, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, and education support professionals who keep our schools running and our children learning struggle to provide for their own families.”
Clinton praised the role of unions in uplifting students and families. She denounced attacks by far right governors and state lawmakers against teacher-led unions.
Unions helped create the strongest middle class in the history of the world. You’re not just fighting for your members. You’re fighting for your students, and families across the country.
“I want anyone who has faced a hostile state legislature, a union-busting governor, or both, to know that help is on the way. I’ll fight back against the attacks, and stand up for your right to organize and bargain collectively.”
Clinton underscored her desire to work with educators in finding solutions to the challenges confronting students and public schools.
“These things can only be done with you, in partnership.
“So I’m asking you – and educators across the country – to work with me. Advise me, hold me accountable.”