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NEA RA Delegates Hear from Clinton on Supporting Students, Teachers

“If I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, educators will have a partner in the White House—and you’ll always have a seat at the table,” Hillary Clinton told delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly today. “I have this idea that when we’re making decisions about education, we should actually listen to educators.”

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee talked to the over 7,500 elected delegates from around the country, including 130 from Connecticut, about the need to provide all children with a high-quality education, reduce the emphasis on testing, and give more much-needed support to educators.

“Tests should get back to their original purpose and provide useful information to teachers and parents so that you know and parents know how our kids and schools are doing in order to help them improve,” Clinton said. “When you’re forced to teach to a test, our children miss out on some of the most valuable lessons and experiences they can gain in the classroom. And it hurts our low-income kids and communities the most.”

NEA Officers and Directors including Bridgeport teacher Gary Peluchette joined Clinton on stage during her speech.

NEA Officers and Directors, including Bridgeport teacher Gary Peluchette, joined Clinton on stage during her speech.

“America’s asking more of our educators than ever before,” Clinton added. “Everybody looks to you to fill in the gaps that we as a country have neglected…. We ask so much of you, and we don’t give you nearly enough in return.”

To fix that Clinton said that, as president, she would launch a campaign to modernize schools, raise teacher pay, and reduce teachers’ student loan burden.

In her keynote to the NEA RA yesterday, NEA President Lily Eskelsen García spoke about Clinton, saying, “For so many years I’ve been inspired by her dedication to children and her leadership on the issues that are closest to our hearts. I’ve seen her bring Republicans and Democrats together for children’s health care; she’s fought for children with disabilities and children with dreams. She’s fought for women and unions and working families all her life.”

Eskelsen García reminded the delegates that it always matters who wins elections. Although teachers have had their differences with President Obama over the past eight years, many historic accomplishments of his administration—the Affordable Care Act, the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the Every Student Succeeds Act, and his work on behalf of the millions of undocumented children—would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of educators.

“We will not waste our collective power waiting for permission—we will lead to something better: to opportunities for all our students,” Eskelsen García said.

NEA voted last fall to endorse Clinton in the presidential primary, but CEA elected not to make a primary endorsement. Members of the CEA Board of Directors are expected to consider a recommendation by the CEA Political Action Committee and vote on an endorsement in the presidential race later this summer.

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