Education News

Educators energized by presidential candidates’ forum at NEA Representative Assembly

By Emily Bricker

Nearly 10,000 NEA members and guests gathered in Houston on Friday to hear 10 presidential candidates address questions posed by educators during NEA’s first-ever Strong Public Schools Presidential Forum. Educators emerged energized and prepared to play an influential role in the 2020 presidential campaign.

NEA president Lily Eskelsen García posed three questions submitted by educators from across the country to each candidate: former Vice President Joe Biden, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sen. Kamala Harris, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Tim Ryan, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“The power of this union and the collective voice of our 3 million educator members was on full display today,” said Eskelsen García. “Educators are ready to make their presence felt in this election and we will play a vital role in choosing who becomes the next president of the United States.”

Questions focused on topics critical to educators and students, including class size, school funding, privatization, gun violence, school infrastructure, and more.

“Whether it’s educator pay, or access to health care, or lacking the tools and resources to do our job, the issues are too important to sit on the sidelines,” said Natha Anderson, a veteran high school English teacher from Washoe, Nevada.

Throughout the forum, members used the hashtag #StrongPublicSchools on social media to share their responses to what the candidates had to say. Here are just a few of their posts:



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The average starting teacher salary in Missouri is $31,842. Missouri ranks 39th nationally for their average teacher salary. It’s pretty tough to make progress on student loan payments making slightly over the poverty level for the United States. We are better than this. Teachers are public servants that make a big difference in the communities they serve. If you believe that our communities are stronger thanks to access to public education, thank a teacher, bus driver, principal, cafeteria worker, teachers aid, counselors, and school support staff. These heroes aren’t doing their jobs to get rich folks. They’re doing it because they believe in the power of education as the great equalizer and a basic human right for all. This is why I’m #RedForEd #TeachersMakeADifference #StrongPublicSchools #VoteLikeATeacher

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Watch a replay of the NEA Strong Public Schools 2020 Presidential Candidates Forum here.

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