Kate Childs Graham
WASHINGTON—Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the 2014 elections.
“It’s clear that many believe this country is on the wrong track and voted for change. Republicans successfully made this a referendum on President Obama’s record and won resoundingly, but where the election was about everyday concerns—education, minimum wage, paid sick leave—working families prevailed.
“Take the races where public education was at the forefront. In Pennsylvania, where Gov. Tom Corbett starved the state’s public schools, particularly in Philadelphia, voters elected Tom Wolf, who has pledged to fully and fairly fund schools and respect teachers. In California, where millions were poured in for a candidate who ran on wiping out teachers’ due process, voters rejected that. In re-electing Tom Torlakson as state superintendent, voters understood that helping kids means working with teachers with a laser focus on our kids with the most needs. Likewise, in Missouri, voters rejected an initiative that would have abolished due process. In New York, voters supported a school bond initiative to enhance technology in the classrooms. And throughout the country, school levies were passed and even candidates like Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott, who won in a tight election, ran on funding schools, not on his record.
“For workers everywhere, the question today—as we saw with the exit polls that said many believe their kids will be worse off than generations before—is still the same as it was yesterday: What is the path to opportunity for my family and especially my kids? For educators in schools across the country, the question today is: Do I have the tools, conditions and support I need to help all kids thrive?
“That’s why we’re asking all governors—whether Democrat or Republican—to work with us to fully fund public education and lift up all workers. We’re asking members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate—whether Democrat or Republican—to break the endless logjam on Capitol Hill. If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to get ahead, and each generation will do better than the one before. That’s the promise of America. Now more than ever, we must work to reclaim that promise.”
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The AFT represents 1.6 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.