Largest labor union launches Strong Public Schools campaign aimed at engaging its three million members
WASHINGTON— The National Education Association jumped into the 2020 presidential campaign for the first time during a national conference call with reporters—highlighting what is at stake in this election and declaring that its more than three million members will have a powerful and unique voice in selecting the next president of the United States.
“We are choosing more than the next president of the United States in the 2020 election,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “We are defining who we are as a country and determining the core values and principles that will guide this great nation moving forward. Educators plan to be front and center in this conversation. We will make our presence felt in this election and will play a major role in choosing the next president of the United States.”
With more than 3 million teachers and education support professionals as members, the National Education Association is the largest union in the U.S., representing one out of every 100 Americans. NEA members live in every state, in every Congressional District, and in every ZIP code. They are a trusted and influential voice in every community who consistently exercise their right to vote.
Hundreds of thousands of educators have taken action in the past two years alone, and the power of educators as activists has been on full display in cities and states across the country. In the 2018 campaign, educators also played an outsized role with NEA members engaging in record activism and helping to elect to public office more than 1,000 educators.
NEA launched Strong Public Schools 2020, a campaign aimed at engaging and listening to its members, lifting up their voices, and engaging candidates. Via strongpublicschools.org, NEA will inform members and the public about where the candidates stand on key issues, share events, submit candidate questions, watch videos, provide news from the campaign trail, as well as take action to support public education. The hub also includes important information about the Association’s presidential recommendation process.
Educators from three early primary and caucus states, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, joined Eskelsen García on the call to discuss what is happening as presidential candidates meet students and educators on the ground.
“Our nations’ public schools instill and nurture a great sense of community, offer a wide array of educational choices, and have a deep commitment to success of all our students,” said Megan Tuttle, NEA-New Hampshire President. “As educators, it is our duty to advocate on their behalf since our working conditions are their learning conditions. We will remain active participants in the process that ultimately determines who is elected at the local, state, and national level because nothing less than our children’s future is at stake.”
“The need to address our mental health crisis, the rising cost of health care, poverty, food scarcity, and bullying are all issues that enter our classrooms every day,” said Mike Beranek, president of the Iowa State Education Association. “Our members understand the impact these problems have on our students, their learning potential, and futures. Candidates are doing a lot of listening right now and we are hopeful that our stories will have a large impact on good policy.”
“Nevada educators are instrumental in electing pro-public education candidates at the local, state, and national levels,” said Ruben Murillo, president of the Nevada State Education Association. “Now, we have an opportunity to use our unique, collective voice in educating candidates on issues that are important to the success of our students. Not only do our members attend and participate in the all-important caucuses in the Silver State, but by channeling the spirit of the national #RedforEd movement, we will lift our voices and demonstrate our commitment through our deeds and actions in this election to the success of public education and our students.”
For more than a year, educators have marched in the heat, rallied in the rain, knocked on doors, and put their names on the ballot. They forced politicians to listen, to begin to address to the years of financial neglect that have taken a toll on students and public education. The #RedforEd movement changed the public discourse about public education priorities and delivered political victories that will improve the lives of students in communities across the country.
“With the wind at our back and the momentum of the national #RedforEd movement, we are ready to continue fighting in the 2020 campaign to ensure our students have the opportunity and the public schools they deserve,” concluded Eskelsen García.