Teachers in Chicago began a strike six days ago as negotiations between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union continue. Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot made it clear the Windy City cannot afford to pay teachers more, which is one of the union's biggest gripes.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) decided to jump into the fight to remind voters that she herself was also a public school teacher and, if elected president, she would offer a number of protections.
I attended and taught at America’s public schools, and I believe in them. That's why I've got a plan to invest in public schools and ensure every kid in America has the same access to a high-quality public education. https://t.co/XAPnwjooVX— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
Funding for public schools is inadequate and inequitable, and our schools are more segregated now than decades ago. We don't treat teachers and staff like professionals, and we're diverting money from public schools. It's time to live up to our promise of a good public education.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
One of the first things Warren said she would do, if elected, would be to replace Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and providing $450 billion in Title I funding over a 10 year period.
I’ll start—as I promised in May—by replacing Betsy DeVos with a Secretary of Education who has been a public school teacher, believes in public education, and will listen to our public school teachers, parents, and students.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
Next, I'll make sure that we fund schools adequately and equitably by quadrupling Title I funding—investing an additional $450 billion over the next 10 years—and working with public education leaders and school finance experts to ensure that this money is allocated equitably.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
And we'll provide more funding for IDEA grants, repairing and improving school facilities and infrastructure, developing sustainable community schools, and providing grants to public schools for the programs and resources that are most important to their students.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
Integrated schools improve educational outcomes for students of all races. And integrated schools are demanded by our Constitution. My administration will fund integration efforts, strengthen Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and robustly enforce it.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
She also promises to protect students from various backgrounds and eliminate testing, which was implemented under No Child Left Behind.
My administration will also protect the rights of students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students, English Language Learners, and immigrant students and their families so that every kid has access to a high-quality public education.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
I'll ensure that every student has the opportunity to learn in a welcoming and safe public school. That's why my administration will eliminate high-stakes testing, invest in evidenced-based school safety, and end zero-tolerance discipline policies.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
And, again, she promises to provide more funding for school lunches as well as faculty and staff pay.
I will also push to cancel all existing student meal debt and increase federal funding to school meal programs so that students everywhere can get free and nutritious school meals.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
My administration will work with states to sustainably increase the pay of teachers, paraprofessionals, school staff, and school leaders, and ensure that they have the resources they need. And I'll strengthen their ability to organize and bargain collectively.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
Naturally, she wants to eliminate charter schools and parents' choice on where to send their child.
We must stop the privatization of public schools. My administration will end federal funding for the expansion of charter schools, ban for-profit charter schools, and ensure existing charter schools are held to the same level of transparency and accountability as public schools.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
It's time to live up to the promise of a high-quality public education for every student. My plan makes big, structural changes that would help give every student the resources that they need to thrive.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 21, 2019
Warren even went so far as to share a video of her talking with teachers on strike.
"I'm calling to say thank you for contributing to my campaign multiple times and second, be strong in the Chicago teachers' strike. I know that this has gotta be a hard time for the teachers and I know that no one involved does this lightly, but that you're out there fighting for the future of our children," she said.
She also used the opportunity to talk about how she would make "big structural changes" across the country if she became president.
"We're gonna make big structural changes in this country. And a big part of that is gonna start with making sure that it's easier to join a union, that unions have more power when they negotiate, because when unions are strong, we have a strong future," Warren said. "Be strong. Stay on the picket lines as long as you need to, and let's get this done. And you can count on me. Take care. Persist."
I called Chicago teachers on strike to let them know I'm standing beside them. They're out fighting for the future of our students—and I'm with them all the way. #PutItInWriting #FairContractNow pic.twitter.com/vYITcQtGF0— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 20, 2019
Let's be real. This isn't about "supporting" the Chicago teachers demanding higher pay in a city that is bankrupt. This is about Warren trying to make herself relatable. This is about her trying to perfect her so-called "school teacher" persona. You know, the very profession she claims she was fired from because she was pregnant, even though she wasn't.
And, like all things Warren proposes, she makes promise after promise and has absolutely no plan on how to fund it. Americans want kids to get a decent education, to be productive members of society. Find one adult who says, "no, schools shouldn't be funded or maintained." Doubt you'll find one. But we need to be realistic. We can't keep pulling money out of thin air and then wondering why our national deficit is as high as it is.
The truth of the matter is Warren needs to pick her narrative and stick with it. Teaching for a year decades ago doesn't suddenly make her an expert on all education issues. If anything, it makes her even more removed from the classroom than those with young children.