By Amanda Menas
When Marisol Garcia nominated Joe Biden on behalf of Arizona during the DNC’s virtual Roll Call, she shared that as an NEA union organizer, she will fight to make sure we listen to scientists on when to reopen schools during the pandemic and to educators on how to reopen. She spoke as an Arizona Latina, a parent, and an educator as well.
“As a middle school teacher, I know that public educators are doing everything they can to make sure our students have quality learning experiences this fall. As a mother of a high school freshman, I know that it’s far from perfect,” said Garcia, who also serves as vice president of the Arizona Education Association.
Now, Garcia has a new role: Co-Lead National Organizer for Educators for Biden.
Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden have both recognized educators as essential members of the Biden campaign since day one. Educators for Biden was created by the campaign to make sure educators have a voice in the issues they care about. Garcia and AFT co-lead David Quolke are stepping up to make this dream a reality and ensure that the voice of educators is always present.
“My introduction to the Biden campaign was they really wanted someone who has done some work in organizing, which I did in Arizona with the RedforEd movement…someone who really believes the role of unions, and someone who can speak to the most vulnerable students and communities right now,” said Garcia, who has worked for 15 years in a small Phoenix school district that educates mostly students of color and those who are underserved. Her goal is to be able to speak on behalf of students of color who have lived through the last four years of threats to their public education by the Trump Administration, which she says is out of touch with what is happening in schools and communities.
“The Biden-Harris campaign is focused on making sure that it is appropriately reaching out to those communities specifically who have been left out of this current administration’s purview,” said Garcia, who throughout the last four years has felt her community has been ignored. She says that at 10 years old, her son asked, “Why do people hate us?” following the 2016 elections.
Now she can tell her son that a presidential nominee not only respects educators, but all Americans.
Garcia says that the purpose of the Educators for Biden group is to listen to educators, talk with members, and make sure the campaign is championing education issues. A goal is to prepare as many educators as possible to vote this November, whether early, via mail-in-ballots, or in person. Due to the pandemic, her days start early with video chats with educators in different states.
“We are all first year COVID teachers. We’re all first year. We’re all going to go through this together in whatever that means,” Garcia said, recalling a conversation she had with new educators in recent months. “To get through COVID and to get through the racial inequities that we are all going to be coming to address, we have somebody that is going to be paving the way. Education unions…are working with the Vice President’s teams to make sure that these are issues not only addressed in the campaign but are addressed when he wins.”
Biden’s plan for educators and students of all ages includes fully funding IDEA, tripling Title I resources, increasing the number of school counselors, making community college affordable and accessible, and addressing student debt.
“I can say unequivocally looking at Joe Biden’s stances, his policies, they’re all the things that we’ve been waiting to hear, if not for four years, for decades,” said Garcia, who is using her role to mobilize voters leading up to the general election, and provide feedback on education issues to the campaign. She says that in creating the Educators for Biden group, he is saying to educators, “I see you, and I believe in you, and I need you.”