Below if an AFT Press Release
Yesterday, Lily Eskelsen Garcia and I stood with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic congressional leaders on Capitol Hill to support their Better Deal for Teachers and Students initiative. Unlike others who spout rhetoric about the importance of teachers—like Betsy DeVos, who was on the Hill at the same time—the Democratic plan has real solutions addressing pay, equity and investments in education.
The conditions facing educators and students today are not new: 29 states still spend less on public education than before the Great Recession. To pay their bills, 59 percent of teachers have worked a second job. And we’re the only professionals I know who, as part of the job, dig into our own pockets to cover the necessities that elected officials are failing to provide our students.
A Better Deal for Teachers and Students prioritizes making an investment in our children, in teaching and learning, and in our profession. It would:
- Dedicate $50 billion to states and school districts to increase teacher compensation and recruit and retain a strong, diverse workforce over the next 10 years;
- Establish a new $50 billion fund for school infrastructure and resources;
- Provide additional support to initiatives that increase capacity in Title I schools and ensure all students have access to a well-rounded education;
- Protect teachers’ freedom to negotiate for better pay and conditions by safeguarding the right of public employees to join unions, collectively bargain and engage in collective action to support each other. It would also respect the voices of these professionals when making decisions about what’s best for their students; and
- Meet our federal commitment to fund special education.
This plan recognizes that public education, is the vehicle through which we enable opportunity for all children. It proposes legislation that will protect educators’ freedom to advocate for themselves and their students through strong unions and collective bargaining, so that teachers don’t have to turn to their last resort—walking out and taking to the streets—for their students to get the attention and resources their schools need.
These are the same things teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina were fighting for when they walked out of their classrooms and into their capitol buildings.