The end of the year can be a bittersweet time to reflect and celebrate. But I’m feeling a surge of adrenaline, because I cannot wait for 2020 to arrive.
Why? Because in 2020 we have a chance to elect a president who’s with us—one who believes in the transformative power of public schools, who will support the real needs of our students, and who honors educators as professionals.
I spent all day Saturday at a convention center in Pittsburgh with more than 1,000 other educators, parents, students, and grassroots activists listening to eight top presidential candidates answer our questions about their plans for education.
It was exhilarating to spend a day examining big ideas and looking forward.
NEA worked with MSNBC and 10 other education and social justice groups to bring together the “Public Education Forum 2020: Equity and Opportunity for All.” Sen. Michael Bennet, Vice Pres. Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren each had equal time to present their ideas on what our public school system should be and how best to get there. Then they answered our questions, many of which focused on the persistent—in some cases, intentional—gaps in education equity found nationwide.
Educators are making it clear we want a president who’s ready to take on the tough questions: Why don’t all of our public schools look like our best public schools? Why does so much in our students’ lives—including the resources invested in their neighborhood school—still depend on what zip code they live in?
We’re looking for a leader who will listen to educators, understand our vision for schools, and work with us to advance the best solutions.
We’ve seen what happens when non-educators who refuse to work with us are put in charge. Scarce funding is squandered on unproven ideas, our students’ civil rights are compromised, and the promise of our public schools goes unfulfilled year after year.
Our students deserve better, and they are counting on us to put in a lot of hard work to change things in 2020.
NEA is determined to do just that, by raising our voices and staying true to our beliefs: That public schools are a cornerstone of our democracy and that all students must have equal access to the opportunities a great public education brings, regardless of the color of their skin, the languages their families speak at home, or how much money they have.
That’s why we launched our Strong Public Schools campaign early, and why we’ve hosted two major public education forums to ask the candidates to dig deeper on our issues. That’s why thousands of our members have submitted questions for me to ask the candidates who are participating in our candidate recommendation process. That’s why we’re posting those video-recorded conversations for everyone to view. That’s why educators are sharing their stories, filled with poignant, sometimes painful details from their classrooms and personal lives in the hopes that they can help the candidates and all voters understand the realities we face.
NEA members are already deeply engaged in the 2020 election. And we’re just getting started.
Make sure you’re part of the movement. Go to StrongPublicSchools.org to watch our candidate interviews, user our candidate comparison tool, and sign our voter education pledge.