As a teacher in a rough environment, the job is very difficult. In fact, it seems very impossible.
I personally have to spend so much of my own money on school supplies for my kids. My kids come in without the resources themselves, without paper, pens, or notebooks. Recently, I brought combination locks for my kids and taught them how to use them. They didn’t have their own locks, and I wanted to make sure they had their possessions safely in their lockers.
It was a moment that brought me back to my middle school days. It was a glimmer of hope. And yet I spend so many days dejected and frustrated at my lack of resources and lack of ability to take care of my kids. I do my best to teach them, but how can I do that when they’re complaining to me all day about being hungry? I try to teach them, but how can I do that when they’re facing problems of absentee parenting and drug addiction at home?
For me, teachers need to be paid more. As a teacher in a rough Title I school, we need more supports in the form of coaching and better buildings. I can’t tell you how many buildings in my district don’t have heat or AC for their kids in times of extreme conditions. We need to have smaller class sizes. At the worst, schools will have to be closed down for a day. We need less standardized testing and more time for instruction.
For all these reasons, I feel like Bernie Sanders would be the best candidate for teachers. I am sick and tired of small, incremental change for teachers that is never enough and rarely comes to fruition. In the past four years of the Trump administration, we have seen teacher strikes across the country. This comes in inner-city school districts like Chicago as well as coal-country states like West Virginia and Kentucky.
“So far this year, teachers have picketed in one of the wealthiest states — California, which has strong protections for public unions,” wrote Zachary B. Wolf of CNN. “And one of the poorest: West Virginia, which has rolled back union protections in recent years.
Bernie Sanders has guaranteed that if he is President, he will combat much of the problems we face as teachers. We don’t expect perfection, but I can speak for many teachers when I say we are dissatisfied with the lack of support and help we’re getting, with well-meaning administrators who have bosses telling them to play the numbers game and not looking out for us and their students.
Bernie has guaranteed giving teachers a starting salary at $60,000, and expanding the right of collective bargaining and tenure. I work at a charter school that has seen a crooked operator swindle money from the federal government, and Bernie guarantees “end[ing] the unaccountable profit-motive of charter schools.” As a special educator, we don’t have a lot of the resources in manipulatives, books, paper, and copiers that we need, and Bernie guarantees strengthening the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by providing more funding for special educators. Bernie advocates rebuilding and modernizing a lot of failing facilities in our nation’s schools.
These are only some of the promises that detail Bernie’s Thurgood Marshall Plan for Education.
Of course, promises are just promises. I don’t trust that once Bernie takes office, he can actually enact a lot of his promises with Congress intervening.
However, as a teacher I support Bernie Sanders because he is the only candidate that has seriously emphasized supporting teachers and providing more funding, resources, and coaching for teachers. I have not seen a single newsreel or article of any other candidate pushing their education plan as fervently as Bernie has.
Bernie has made teachers the centerpiece of his campaign. While other candidates have their own plans, very few of them focus as much on teachers as Bernie has.
We are the wealthiest country in the world, and yet we have an education system that lags behind other developed countries. I believe that a big part of this is inequities in allocation. I am a witness to the fact that low socioeconomic status and predominantly minority schools are given up on by society and our federal government, while predominantly white, wealthy suburban schools are well-run, safe, and provide environments where kids can learn without worrying about a lockdown or hunger.
Teachers have given more to Bernie Sanders than any other candidate in the 2020 Democratic Primary. There’s a reason why professors give more to Elizabeth Warren while teachers give more to Bernie. I am not saying that higher education isn’t important, because it most certainly is, but if you don’t support and catch our most vulnerable students early, then how are they expected to go to college?
Teacher unions across the country are endorsing Bernie. Nevada’s largest teacher union, the Clark County Education Assocation, has recently endorsed Bernie. United Teacher Los Angeles has done the same.
I am all for supporting any person who runs against Trump in the general election. I don’t have a doubt that Donald Trump does not have the best interest of teachers in mind.
But I believe Bernie Sanders is the best candidate for teachers because he is the only candidate to make teachers the cornerstone of his campaign. No candidate has worked harder to court teachers, their unions, and support them at teacher strikes. No other candidate has put an emphasis on teachers like Bernie has.
Yes, all candidates have education plans, but how is your plan going to succeed if you’re not putting teachers first?
As a Baltimore City teacher, Bernie has my vote for President.