AFT’s Weingarten on President Biden’s State of the Union Address
WASHINGTON—Statement of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address:
“Tonight, Joe Biden proved why Americans were right to elect him as president. He met a moment in history with gravity and empathy. He urged unity to recover from the immense economic challenges of the pandemic, with a laser focus on boosting wages and cutting costs to help American families recover and thrive.
“And he made the case against the threat posed by autocrats and those who excuse them, both here and abroad. Democracy and freedom are worth fighting for—as the Ukrainian people are showing us every day.
“The president laid out just how far we’ve come in a year—from closed schools, millions of COVID-19 cases and soaring unemployment, to record growth, jobs, vaccines and the return of reliable and safe in-person learning. But we are still dealing with the pandemic’s terrible effects, and the president outlined a plan to curb prices, increase pay and create a better economy that puts American workmanship and creativity front and center and American workers first.
“We commend his specific, practical measures that would reduce costs for families right now, including child care, pre-K and prescription drugs. And we echo the need to take rapid action on climate change after yesterday’s U.N. warning that the world is at a tipping point.
“Our members are on the frontlines of the pandemic, and we were honored to have progressive care unit nurse Refynd Duro of Ohio in the audience with the first lady tonight. Our healthcare heroes know what it will take to emerge stronger and healthier.
“The health, well-being and academic recovery of students is every teacher’s priority, and the pandemic has multiplied the stresses and strains on us all. We share the president’s concerns over the mental health crisis facing our young people, including the negative effects of unbridled social media because we live with the fallout every day.
“Our journey will be difficult, but our direction is clear. And with the president’s leadership, now is the time to broaden the tent—to unify and organize for a better life for all Americans and to fight for and defend democracy, at home and around the world.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 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.