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AFT holds presidential forum

New York Teacher
AFT holds forum
American Federation of Teachers

Weingarten (right) and other organizers welcome everyone to the forum before the candidates take the stage.

Seven leading Democratic candidates for president vied to show their support for public education and public school educators in a forum on Dec. 14 in Pittsburgh. The event, the first televised forum with presidential candidates focused specifically on education, was organized by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and other education and civil rights organizations. Before an audience of more than 1,200 people, including UFT President Michael Mulgrew and UFT members, the candidates all espoused similar education policies: increasing teacher pay, reducing funding inequities among school districts and pulling back on charter schools and standardized testing. “What’s happening today flips the script,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten from the stage. “It is a paradigm shift because the candidates have a chance to listen to what we’ve witnessed from the lens of our lived experience.” The AFT, which earlier held town halls across the country with the major Democratic candidates, has not yet made an endorsement in the race.