WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement on Pete Buttigieg’s plan for public education, released today:
“Mayor Pete’s plan is driven by an important underlying goal: to reclaim the promise and potential of public education to educate every student equitably, regardless of geography or demography. Similar to other Democrats’ plans, it is bold in its vision, proposing proven measures to integrate our public schools and tripling investments in Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, so students from low-income families and students with disabilities have the support and opportunities they need to succeed alongside their peers.
“Crucially, the plan also understands the importance of our nation’s education professionals, and recognizes that educators’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions. It invests in the recruitment of teachers from a diverse pipeline and in the wage increases necessary to retain educators—in particular special education teachers in rural areas.
“Perhaps because Mayor Pete is married to a schoolteacher, his plan reflects a deep and nuanced understanding of the lived experience of our country’s public school students, parents and educators—a majority of whom want strong neighborhood public schools that are great places both for teachers to work and for students to learn. It makes clear that educators need a voice at work, emphasizing the need for unions and bargaining rights to ensure teaching jobs are good jobs, and schools are safe and welcoming workplaces.
“And maybe most importantly, this proposal recognizes that students face an increasingly volatile and complicated world. As nearly half of America’s teenagers report experiencing trauma or anxiety, the plan calls for expanded access to mental health services in schools, including school counselors, and offers professional development for educators to help them in their expanded role on the frontline.
“Pete’s plan reflects the role of public education as central and foundational to our democracy, and aspires to make it a reality.”