Speaking to 7,000 delegates at the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly, Hillary Clinton passionately laid out her education vision to America’s largest union as she looks to gain support ahead of November’s election.
“I’m with you,” was the message to teachers on 5 July from the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee as she carved out her policy position on the nation’s education system, carefully moving away from current president and former boss, Barack Obama. “I have this old-fashioned idea that we should listen to the teachers and the support professionals who are with our kids every day… And supporting educators means supporting unions.”
Clinton promised delegates in Washington, D.C. that as president she would move away from the obsessive overuse of standardised testing and return the focus to educating students.
“There is no time for finger pointing, or arguing over who cares about kids more,” Clinton said. “It’s time to set one table and sit around it together – all of us – so we can work together to do what’s best for America’s children.”
The former secretary of state announced plans to launch a national campaign to elevate the profession to prioritise the importance of career-long professional development, higher salaries for teachers and education support professionals, as well as relief for crippling student debt.
Speaking at a delegate dinner two days earlier, Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen foreshadowed this year’s presidential election by quoting President Franklin D. Roosevelt:
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
“For us education unions there are no tasks more crucial than saving the public school as a pillar of our democratic systems and regaining control over our profession,” said van Leeuwen. “In the past decades teachers have lost much of their professional autonomy, and their professional space is shrinking. The standardised testing frenzy is only one example of what keeps us from educating young people in the original sense of the word.”
Education International was also proud to be a fixture during the NEA’s RA Exhibition. Represented with an information stand to promote both EI and its Global Response to the privatisation and commercialisation in and of education, EI’s Steve Snider and Mar Candela had the chance to meet greet interested RA participants.
This year’s NEA RA continues until 7 July. View Hillary Clinton's speech in full here.