WASHINGTON—In honor of Public Schools Week, a national celebration dedicated to recognizing the essential role public schools play in our democracy, AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement:
“In an era where the economy creates some winners as well as many people who struggle not just with affordability but to make ends meet, where we confront growing ethnic and racial tensions and the daily undermining of our democracy, we need strong public schools now more than ever. Educators, students, parents and leaders must work together to make them safe and welcoming places where students thrive academically and emotionally. Our public schools are not simply places of opportunity but also places where we can embrace our diversity and forge a common identity.
“As a former social studies teacher, it is an incredible privilege to travel the country and meet with educators, school staff, parents and students to see the remarkable things happening in America’s public schools. I’ve seen high-quality preschool programs like those in Van Wert, Ohio, which give kids a foundation for success and contribute to 96 percent of students graduating on time. And in Peoria, Ill., career and technical programs provide opportunities for more than 400 students in fields ranging from health services to manufacturing, arts and entertainment to city government. These and other public schools are playing crucial roles in shaping the next generation with the knowledge, skills and resiliency to thrive in a complicated world.
“Still, the reality remains that 21 states spend less on public education than they did before the Great Recession. As we celebrate the accomplishments of our public schools, we must continue to fight to fund our students’ future and to invest in the social, emotional and academic resources they need—including school counselors, librarians and nurses—to make every public school in America a place where educators want to teach, parents want to send their kids, and students can learn and succeed.”