It may be summer, but educators are already looking ahead to the 2016 election.
On July 11, the executive council of the 1.6 million-member American Federation of Teachers, the UFT’s parent union, voted overwhelmingly to endorse Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president.
“In vision, in experience and in leadership, Hillary Clinton is the champion that working families need in the White House,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “A product of public schools herself, she believes in the promise of public education.”
At the AFT’s TEACH conference in Washington, D.C., in mid-July, Weingarten explained how the council had made its decision. AFT leaders interviewed the Democratic contenders, while every Republican candidate had ignored the AFT’s invitation to be interviewed, she said. The union conducted two polls of AFT members and held an online forum as well as multiple telephone town hall meetings.
A survey of members by Hart Research Associates showed that AFT members supported Clinton by a 3-to-1 margin.
Clinton, Weingarten said, stood out for her obvious respect for educators.
Weingarten quoted Clinton as saying during an AFT interview, “It’s just dead wrong to make teachers scapegoats. Where I come from, teachers are a solution, not a problem, and I strongly believe unions are part of the solution, too.”
UFT members at the convention were mostly enthusiastic about the endorsement.
“Clinton is in touch with what middle-class Americans need,” said Martha Murray, who teaches at PS 109 in Brooklyn. “She is your everyday fighter who knows the importance of social justice and a quality education.”
Tyisha OwusuSekyere, a special education teacher at PS 78 in Staten Island, agreed. “Anyone who will fight for my students, their education and the teachers deserves to be endorsed,” she said.