Guest op-ed from state Reps. Sharon Steckman, Bruce Bearinger, Cindy Winckler, Ruth Ann Gaines, Molly Donahue and former state Rep. Linda Nelson.
We need a president who understands that education is one of the very best investments in the future we can make. We need a president who believes in public schools, who supports educators and who knows that in this country every student deserves a world-class education. And yes, we need a president who will send Betsy DeVos packing.
That’s why we’ve endorsed Sen. Amy Klobuchar for president.
As educators and legislators, we know that Amy shares our values, she knows how to get things done and she knows how to win. This election is our only shot to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 and we don’t want to screw this up.
If you’ve seen Amy on the campaign trail – and she’s campaigned in all 99 Iowa counties, so there’s a good chance you have – you’ve heard about her mother.
Rose was a public school teacher who taught second grade until she was 70 years old. Rose grew up in Wisconsin but moved to Minnesota where there were better jobs for teachers thanks to the strength of the educators’ unions. Her favorite unit was on monarch butterflies and every year Amy’s mom would dress up like a butterfly in an orange and black outfit, with antennas on her head and a sign that said “Mexico or bust.”
And every year, after school, she’d go to the grocery store wearing the costume. It was only after her mother died that Amy found out why her mom went to the store dressed as a monarch butterfly every year.
At her mother’s visitation, Amy met the mother of a man with disabilities who had been in Rose’s class as a second grader. He loved the butterfly unit and he loved Amy’s mom. All those years later, she would go wait in his line at the grocery store dressed as a butterfly so she could give him a big hug.
Amy’s carried those values with her to the United States Senate and across her presidential campaign.
We all know teachers like that. Like Amy, we know how they’ve shaped our lives, strengthened our communities and helped students in every zip code and from every background succeed.
Amy recognizes that there is a critical role for the federal government in supporting K-12 education and that right now the federal government is not doing enough.
Amy has called for fully funding the federal commitment Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). She has also called for a serious investment in increasing teacher pay.
Amy knows that teachers are entrusted with incredible responsibility and their pay and value should reflect their extraordinary responsibility. Her School Progress Partnerships plan will provide incentives to states to work with educators to address teacher shortages, improve teacher training, recruitment and retention and diversify the teaching workforce. It will also provide incentives for states to make their funding formulas more equitable and encourage states to work with teachers to develop community school models that offer additional community services in the school building.
Amy has also made school-related infrastructure funding a major component of her infrastructure plan, prioritized increased support for STEM education, and called for fixing and strengthening the public service student loan forgiveness program.
In the Senate, Amy pushed for the passage of the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” which made much-needed changes to roll back the federal test-based system and included her provisions to expand STEM opportunities and improve teacher retention.
And as the daughter of a teacher and someone who went to public schools, she believes it is critical to have a secretary of education with education experience. As president, she will also put back in place guidance from President Obama directing schools to reduce racial disparities in how they discipline students. She’s also released a comprehensive plan for post-secondary education, including investing in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and made education a central plank of her economic agenda, which she announced here in Iowa last month.
Finally, as someone who grew up in a union household and whose mom walked the picket line, she’ll make sure that the Supreme Court’s Janus decision is not the last word on public sector unions. She’ll stand with American workers and stand up against attempts to weaken our unions here in Iowa and across the country.
As president, she’ll work with her secretary of labor to make sure that the laws that regulate labor unions aren’t used to undermine organized labor and she will fight to pass legislation she supports in the Senate, the “Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act,” to guarantee all public sector workers, including teachers, the right to collectively bargain.
But beyond knowing the issues facing our schools and our educators and having bold plans to make a difference, Amy also knows how to get things done. She knows the difference between a plan and a pipe dream. In the Senate, she’s passed more than 100 bills into law as the lead Democrat, despite gridlock in Washington, including over 40 bills under this administration.
She doesn’t just have plans, she has deadlines. She’s the only candidate to release a detailed plan of more than 100 actions she will take in her first 100 days as president.
She also knows how to win. She’s won every race, every place, every time. Next door in Minnesota, she’s won landslide victories three times. She’s won every congressional district in the state each time and last election, in 2018, she won back 42 counties that Donald Trump won in 2016. She’s going to rebuild the Blue Wall in the Midwest, and she’s going to make Trump pay for it.
As educators, we know that every student matters – because this is a nation of shared dreams. Amy’s running to be president of all of America. She’s a leader that can bridge our divides and bring people together and we urge you to support her when you caucus next month.
By state Reps. Sharon Steckman, Bruce Bearinger, Cindy Winckler, Ruth Ann Gaines, Molly Donahue and former state Rep. Linda Nelson