HAPPENING NOW: @rweingarten talks to the @nysut conference of leaders. Follow along in the thread below.
.@rweingarten: After the 2016 election, several of us got together in Washington DC to see what we needed to do next. Rather than talking about politicians to voting, we now focus first on what the values are to lead people to vote.
.@rweingarten: It doesn't matter where you are or how you've voted in the past. What matters is, what are the values we're voting on? I know everyone in this room believes in well-resourced public education as an aspiration agent.
.@rweingarten: We need to make sure teachers to paras to bus drivers to have the conditions they need to help kids. But we believe in public ed as an anchor in this country. Another anchor in this country? Unions.
.@rweingarten: We've gone from a union movement that was stagnant, to seeing young people seeing the power of unions and organizing their workplaces. You can tell in the aftermath of Janus, most of our members believe that we can accomplish together what's impossible alone.
.@rweingarten: Most of our members believe in democracy, in freedom, in fighting discrimination. From that, there's a movement. And from that, there's opportunity and justice.
.@rweingarten: Conservatives are working consistently to undermine educators in this country. They're in the same race as we are between fear & hope, aspiration & despair, democracy & autocracy. And they're doing this because our members worked so hard during COVID.
.@rweingarten: What right wing extremists understand is what Americans understand: That public schools are foundational.
.@rweingarten: If folks like DeSantis & DeVos get their way, kids won't become critical thinkers and learn the lessons of life. Schools are a way of creating pluralism and diversity. That's why there's censorship of books and lessons, and calling educators "woke."
.@rweingarten: These extremists are fighting these culture wars, and the attacks are only going to get worse. It's a strategy to divide educators from parents, to create apathy and fear. These are the biggest tools they have to win.
.@rweingarten: Right wing extremists have said that the way to universal vouchers is to create universal distrust. But our members stuck with the union after Janus. And people around the country understand the importance of unions. That's why they're fighting these culture wars.
.@rweingarten: AFT and @nysut have already created an antidote. Just like we did in 2016, you turned to the values that unite us - what kids need most. Everyone's been through in the last 2 years. So if we can unite educators & parents, we can win.
.@rweingarten: What do parents want the most? They want their kids to learn & to be safe. That's why we started our #ReadingOpensTheWorld program - to increase literacy and get kids excited about learning by giving out 1M books - and focus on community schools.
.@rweingarten: We're facing a mental health crisis and food insecurity crisis in this country. Why can't we use the infrastructure of community schools to help tackle those challenges?
.@rweingarten: 93% of kids in CTE schools graduate, and 70% go to college. If we had more of these career tech ed schools, so students could see their future in front of them, think about what it would do for them and for our future.
.@rweingarten: Thinking about ways to meet the needs of our kids, rather than endless conversations about who is "woke," is what we're doing. That's what parents want. What we need is for educators to be respected and to have the conditions we need to teach.
.@rweingarten: I know we say it a lot, but elections matter more than ever. We have lawmakers running in states across the country, who are denying the results of the 2020 election, spouting the Big Lie.
.@rweingarten: We can't afford to stay home. You can lose at the ballot box what you win at the bargaining table. If we lose this election, Rick Scott already said conservatives want to sunset every law every 5 years. What do you think that means for Social Security? Medicare?
.@rweingarten: Apathy is the tool of the autocrat. These extremists don't think our members will vote for them. They're aiming for people to stay home. Everything that happens in Washington these days, and in other states, will eventually show up in our communities.
.@rweingarten: I know how exhausted you all are. But you continue this work because that's who you are. That's what this administration is trying to do: Help working families. This new #InflationReductionAct will help keep costs down, invest in the environment, lower drug prices.
.@rweingarten: We are still fighting to #CancelStudentDebt because we know how important this is. It's why we've partnered with @SavewithSummer and filed lawsuits and worked with the administration to fix #PSLF. That's what union advocacy is: Never giving up. That's who we are.
.@rweingarten: We live in a post-truth society. That's why we're important. We are trusted messengers in our community, and we have to continue to build those relationships in our communities. It's up to us to strengthen democracy.
.@rweingarten on gun violence in schools: We're in the gun violence conversation for the same reason we fought for good ventilation & layered COVID mitigation factors in schools. It's to create safe, welcoming learning & working environments for all. (1/4)
.@rweingarten: About 80% of our members believe that educators & students shouldn't have guns in schools. Whether or not school security should be armed is up to the localities, and we've had conversations about school security with civil rights groups & members. (2/4)
.@rweingarten: We believe that weapons of war have no place in our communities. This isn't about the 2nd amendment and responsible gun ownership - this is about reasonable restrictions to keep folks safe. (3/4)
.@rweingarten: We also believe that gun manufacturers should be held responsible for the danger of their products. When aspirin caused injury, it was pulled from the shelves. Why are gun makers immune from this accountability? (4/4)
Wow! One of our @nysut members, because of AFT's advocacy, just had $142,600 forgiven in student debt because of the #PSLF.
.@rweingarten on division & discrimination: We can't be bystanders. We have to figure out how to meet people where they are & bring people to a different place. We need to name the behavior & say it's not appropriate, without shaming people.
.@rweingarten on LGBTQ+ issues: It's important that we reach out to folks feeling threatened and show our support. But people are being used as pawns in political battles, and we also need to mobilize, organize & elect lawmakers who will stand up for LGBTQ+ people.