At the AFT Convention in Minneapolis on Monday, Hillary Clinton reiterated her commitment to ensure every child receives a world-class education, regardless of their ZIP code. Clinton pledged to partner with teachers in the White House to repair our crumbling schools, invest in training and support for our educators, and provide every student in America the opportunity to learn computer science.
Clinton argued that Donald Trump is unfit to serve as president. Trump wants to "largely" eliminate the Department of Education, believes we invest too much in public education, and selected a running mate who slashed funding for schools that served Indiana’s most vulnerable students. As Clinton said, "Neither Mike Pence nor Donald Trump should be anywhere near our children's education"
Clinton's remarks, as transcribed, are below:
“Hello! Hello, AFT! My goodness, I was listening in the back and I heard Randi at the end of her remarks say, ‘And I’ve known her for 25 years.’ Wow, it’s been fun, hasn’t it? Gone by fast.
Well, I’m thrilled to be here, and it is only fitting that AFT is celebrating your centennial right here in Minnesota, a state with a proud tradition of public service and great public education.I am thrilled that former Vice President Walter Mondale is here with us. He was one of my earliest inspirations, and I am always grateful for his life of service. And I also want to say a word about Governor Wendell Anderson. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the countless people whose lives he touched. Minnesota has a great tradition of electing terrific public servants. And I am so proud to be here with this state’s dynamic duo. You got a preview, a taste of the combination that Amy and Al represent, but I can tell you that the two senators from Minnesota are among the greatest that Minnesota has ever sent to Washington, and among the greatest to have ever served in the United States Senate. And I just said exactly what they told me to say. I’ve known Al a long time. He handed me this slip of paper on the way in. But no, I consider them both great friends and I am so excited about being able to work with them again starting next January 2017.And Randi, thank you for that introduction, but much more than that, thanks for standing up to injustice in all of its forms. As Randi said earlier, these have been difficult days for our country and the world. Just over a week ago, Philando Castile died in a police incident outside St. Paul.”\
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: “Hands up, don’t shoot. Hands up, don’t shoot. Hands up, don’t shoot.”
HILLARY CLINTON: “And I just had the great honor – the great honor and the great privilege of meeting with his mother and meeting with two of his uncles and his sister. And I had heard a lot about Phil, because that is what they call him. And I share – I share the urgency and the commitment to actually address these issues.
But let me tell you, my friends, let me tell you, we cannot let this madness continue. A lot of people are still in pain right here, including his courageous family, his coworkers and students at the St. Paul public schools. And to our AFT brothers and sisters in the Twin Cities who knew him as a fellow educator who cared deeply about this community and its children, his mother was telling me how he never wanted to miss a day of work. He drove 30 miles from their home in Minneapolis to the school where he worked. Nothing could stop him from being there. And his death, his loss is ours as well. Our country has been confronted – our country has been confronted with tragedy too many times recently, hasn’t it? From St. Paul to Orlando, from Dallas to Baton Rouge, where we saw three police officers murdered yesterday in an apparent ambush. This hate, this violence cannot stand. Killing police officers is a crime against us all. There can be no justification, no looking the other way, and this must end. And it can. It can be true both that we need law enforcement and that we need to improve law enforcement to get back – to get back to the fundamental principle that everyone in every community benefits when there is respect for the law and everyone is respected by the law.
The service and sacrifice of your fellow public employees is crucial to keeping our communities safe, and these murders threaten the painful, essential work we have to do as a nation. And for many of the people in this room, that work includes explaining these incidents to our children. Something you’ve had to do more and more this past year. So to every single AFT member, I say thank you.
Thank you for caring for all of our children no matter what they look like, where they come from, or who they are.
And thank you for being one of the essential partners in everything we’ve got to do to move our country in the right direction. Thank you for fighting to reform our broken campaign finance system. I will stand with you and propose a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Thank you. Thank you for fighting to defend and improve the Affordable Care Act – and I will work with you to keep pushing for universal health care coverage. Most of all, thank you for a century of fighting for fairness and opportunity – the teachers, paraprofessionals, school-related personnel, the nurses, and public service employees of AFT.
I know that you have some of the hardest, most important jobs in the world. And I want to say right from the outset that I’m with you. When I am president, you will have a partner in the White House and you will always have a seat at the table. Because just like you, I get up every day and I ask, how can we do better for America’s kids? I am committed to making sure every child in this country receives a world-class education with good schools and good teachers, no matter what ZIP code they live in. And I know that starts with supporting parents to be their child’s first teachers. And expanding access to high-quality childcare and universal preschool for every single child.
I know that means repairing our crumbling schools and investing in training and support for our educators, because when we invest in education, we invest in our country’s future. And you know what? We also then invest in a stronger economy. Some of you may know that these issues aren’t new to me. My first job out of law school was working for the Children’s Defense Fund. I went door to door in New Bedford, Massachusetts, talking with families whose kids had disabilities that made it hard or impossible for them to go to school. Our work helped convince Congress to guarantee access to education for all students. And years later, when my husband was governor of Arkansas, he put me in charge of working to improve our schools, and we held hearings in every county and we came up with a plan, then we fought hard to raise standards and get schools more resources and to get teachers the raises they deserved, which was the highest increase of any state in the country at that time.
So, you see, along with my personal experience, I carry these lessons. If we work together, we can give schools and educators the resources you need to succeed. My plan to strengthen public education comes down to TLC: teaching, learning, and community. America is asking more of our educators than ever before. Some of you heard the impassioned plea from the police chief in Dallas when he said our society is asking so much more of our police to deal with so many problems. Well, it’s true of our teachers and our educators as well.
We look to you to fill in gaps that we, as a country, have neglected, like helping low-income kids, English-language learners, kids with disabilities thrive. And we ask you to help right wrongs, from poverty and homelessness to the legacy of racial inequities stretching back centuries. We ask so much of you and we don’t give you enough in return. As president, I will launch a national campaign to modernize and elevate the profession of teaching. I want all educators, at every stage of your careers, to know you’ll be able to keep learning, improving and innovating. And we also need to be serious about raising wages for teachers and support staff. Anyone who works full-time in America should be able to earn a living wage without taking second and third jobs just to get by.
And the last thing a teacher needs when you’re just starting out is a mountain of student debt. When I’m president, future students won’t have to borrow a dime to attend public colleges or universities. For families making less than $125,000 a year, we will eliminate tuition at public colleges and universities altogether. And for the millions who already have student debt, you will be able to refinance your student loans so you never have to pay more than you can afford. And if you go into public service, which includes teaching, any remaining debt will be forgiven after 10 years.
Now, we need to make college more affordable, but we can’t cut costs at the expense of talented, committed educators at colleges across the country, including adjunct faculty members. (Cheers and applause.) They also deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and to have a strong voice with a union. If we are serious about supporting educators, we need to support unions. And I will fight back against attacks on working families in America, and I will defend your right to organize and bargain collectively, and we will not stand for attempts to privatize public services.
Now, here’s what I know. I know these things can only be done with you in partnership. So I’m asking you, asking educators across the country, to work with me; asking you to advise me and to hold me accountable; to keep advocating for your students, your profession, and your communities. Because together, we are stronger, and we can produce results if we get up every single day, make up our minds we’re going to keep working to achieve the goals that I have set out.
The second piece of TLC is learning. We need to educate our children for the future, not the past. We want our children to be creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, critical thinkers who can collaborate and communicate within their communities and around the world. That means we need to be reaching together for new heights, not rehashing old arguments. It’s time to stop focusing only on, quote, ‘failing schools.’ Let’s focus on all of our great schools too. When schools get it right, let’s replicate their practices across America. There’s a lot we can learn from each other, and I intend to make sure that we have the best research, the best evidence, no matter where it comes from – that you then can put to work on behalf of your students.
So yes, we are going to do everything possible to work with schools across America. I’ve been in a lot of those schools. I used to have what I called the Chelsea test. Now I’ve got the Charlotte test. And that test is pretty simple. Would I want my daughter, and now my granddaughter, and soon my grandson, to go to school here? I’ll tell you what. I have walked into a lot of schools where I said, boy, would I be happy – would I be happy to have the most important child in the world to me attend here. But I’ve also walked into schools where literally the building is falling down, where you can see the holes in the ceiling, where you can see the mold, where you walk into a library and there’s not a single book and there certainly is not a computer. We can’t tolerate that. We can’t let any one of America’s precious children – I don’t care who they are – attend a school that shows we don’t care about them.
And that’s why we are not going to go in the direction of letting people on the outside foist for-profit schools on our kids. We are going to continue to oppose vouchers that drain resources from public schools and undermine their ability to provide the education our children deserve. Where there are public charter schools, we will learn from them. But what we’re interested in is making sure that every child in our country has the chance to attend a great public school. And I believe part of that rests on working together to find the right balance on testing.
Now, look, you know; you’re the experts. Tests can provide critical information to teachers and parents to find out how kids are doing, how schools are doing to help them improve. But when you are forced to teach to a test, our children miss out on some of the most valuable experiences they can gain in a classroom during their school years. I personally have no time for these so-called education wars. It’s time for those of us who believe in public education to sit at one table, around it together, and listen to you – the teachers and support paraprofessionals who actually are with our kids all day long.
And let’s start making decisions about what’s best for our kids not in accordance with some entrenched ideology. Consider this: Right now, there are more than half a million open jobs that require computing skills across the country, in every major industry. But you know the majority of our schools don't offer computer science. That's partly because there's a shortage of computer science teachers, it's partly because our educators don't have the time or resources to learn how to integrate digital tools into their curriculum. And we can do something about that. And on top of it, more than 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires broadband access, but more than 5 million children don't have it. We're just taking this digital divide and making it a huge problem in the lives of 5 million kids. And we can do something about that.
As president, I will be your partner to take on these challenges. We're going to make sure every child in America has the opportunity to learn computer science. We're going to work to close the homework gap by making every student has broadband access that they can use to do their homework. So let's use all the tools at our disposal, including technology, to give kids an education that will meet the skills needed for the jobs we're producing.
And finally, there's C in TLC, community. So much of what happens inside your classroom is determined by what happens outside. Too many of our public school students are living in poverty. For the first time ever, it's a majority. 51 percent. That's on all of us. But you see students coming to school hungry or exhausted from a long night in a shelter. So many kids have the weight of the world on their little shoulders. And we need to tackle all the problems holding our kids back. And we need to do it together.
I've had so many meetings and conversations with teachers, it just breaks my heart, as they tell me about kids who come to school in the dead of winter, no coat on their back. Come to school unable to even look in their teacher’s face because of what just happened at home or on the way to school. Go home from school dodging gangs trying to recruit them. That's a stain on all of us. Let's create more community schools. More partnerships between schools, social services, and nonprofit organizations. Let's pledge that we're going to give children who need it the mental health services that they deserve.
And you should not have to be from a wealthy family to join a soccer team or have access to extracurricular activities that can develop your confidence and your feeling that you are an important person in the world in the eyes of those who are looking at you. So we're going to have to work together. There is no choice. From the community level all the way to the White House. That's just one of the many reasons why this election is it so important. I'll tell you what. If I weren't running against him, I would ask Randy to invite me here so I could rail against him.
Because it's no surprise, my friends, that Donald Trump has a very different take on all of this. He has said that America spends too much on education. This is coming from someone who wants to give millionaires a free trillion dollar tax cut over the next decade. At least. I'd like to hear him explain that to parents in Detroit, where students are trying to learn in crumbling, rodent infested classrooms. He wants to, and I quote, ‘largely eliminate the Department of Education.’ But he says maybe he'll leave some tentacles out there, whatever that means.
Now look, that agency may not always get it right, but it provides support for vital programs, from pre-K to Pell grants, and crucial resources to help low income students, students with disabilities, and English-language learners. So Donald Trump would leave our most vulnerable students to fend for themselves. If you want to know what kind of president Donald Trump will be, just look at who he's chosen as his running mate. A Tea Party politician who has worked to undermine the rights of women, workers, LGBT Americans, and immigrants.
Mike Pence is one of the most extreme vice presidential picks in a generation. And he's one of the most hostile politicians in America when it comes to public education. As governor of Indiana, he cut millions from higher education while he was giving huge tax cuts to corporations. He turned away millions of federal dollars that could have expanded access to preschool for low income children, and slashed funding for schools that served Indiana's most vulnerable students. Neither Mike Pence nor Donald Trump should be anywhere near our children's education.
And one more thing. Parents and educators across America are already worried about what they're calling the Trump effect, with bullying and harassment on the rise in our schools. Last week, a mother in Wisconsin wrote me a letter saying that her adopted son had turned to her and said, if Trump becomes president, he’s going to make me go back to Ethiopia. That's the kind of fear Donald Trump is creating in the heart of a 10 year old boy. What do our children think when he calls women pigs, or mocks a reporter with a disability? Or when he talks about banning one and a half billion Muslims from entering our country? What do our kids take away from his racist attack against a federal judge, or when he encourages his supporters to punch protesters in the face? You wouldn't tolerate that kind of behavior in your home or in your classroom. How can we stand for it from someone running to be president of the United States?
Well, we know America’s a bighearted, fair-minded country, and that with your help, we're going to continue to stress to our kids this is one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Not just for people who look a certain way, or worship a certain way. We're stronger when every child has the chance to live up to his or her full potential. And public education gives our kids that chance. So that's why I'm counting on you. I'm counting on the AFT. I'm counting on the American public to make sure as many people as possible get registered to vote, get educated, and get mobilized.
Today I announced a nationwide effort by my campaign to get more than 3 million Americans to register and commit to vote in November. We would love your help. Please go to Hillaryclinton.com/vote to get involved. And then let's keep going. Let's keep making our case, working for better schools, more resources, more support, to give all of our kids the chance that they deserve. With your help, we're going to make sure we get to work on that agenda together, because we're going to make sure we don't turn our country over to Donald Trump. Let's go win in November. Thank you all very, very much.”
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Hillary Clinton at the American Federation of Teachers Convention
Hillary appeared with Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken yesterday in Minneapolis.