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TRANSCRIPT: Senator Warren Joins Massachusetts Educators to Discuss Principles that Teachers are Fighting For in Order to Safely Reopen Massachusetts Schools

Press Release

Date: July 23, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) joined the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Massachusetts, and the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) for a virtual discussion on the principles that Massachusetts teachers are fighting for in order to safely reopen schools, including funding, safety accommodations for students, teachers, and staff in Massachusetts and across this country.

A transcript of Senator Warren's opening remarks is below.

TRANSCRIPT:

Elizabeth Warren: Thank you very much. Thank you, Nikko! And a very special thank you to Merrie, Beth, and Jessica, for really pulling us together for this conversation today. I am so happy to be on a call with some of the most dedicated and hard working people in Massachusetts: our public school educators.

Now, you all know, this is a time of crisis for our nation. And across the country the fight for social, racial and economic justice has reached a new threshold, as we also fight to stem the tide of the coronavirus pandemic that has already killed more than 140,000 Americans.

But in the face of this historic public health and economic crisis, the Trump administration's response has been cruel, heartless and incompetent. Teachers, school staff, and families have worked hard to try to keep kids learning during this crisis. But Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos have failed our students and failed our schools.

Betsy DeVos has spent the entire pandemic finding new ways to shovel millions of taxpayer dollars into private schools.

In Congress, Republicans have failed to provide the critical resources that our public schools need to weather this storm and to be able to reopen safely. And their inaction hits close to home - Massachusetts is facing a huge budget deficit which has resulted in devastating layoffs, including those that were just announced by the UMass system just this week.

So now, DeVos, Donald Trump, and Republicans in Congress are trying to bully schools into reopening no matter what local public health officials recommend.

So, I've got news for President Trump and Republicans who are trying to politicize the safety and well-being of our students and our teachers. We can't just snap our fingers and the reopen schools.

Teachers have done their part. They scrambled to take their entire classrooms online and have worked hard with families to try to keep kids learning during this crisis. And school staff like cafeteria workers have done their part, getting meals to students in need. Administrators have done their part. Bus drivers have done their part. Everyone has been doing their part for our kids.

And look we all understand that distance learning just isn't the same as being in school with a caring teacher and it has been devastating for kids of color. That's why we all want schools to be able to open safely as soon as possible. But safely reopening schools is going to require real leadership and careful planning that puts the safety of students, teachers, custodians, bus drivers, school nurses, cafeteria workers, and all of our school staff first.

That's why educators and staff have to be at the table for these decisions. I'm glad MTA, AFT - Massachusetts, and BTU have worked together to come up with principles for how to safely reopen Massachusetts schools.

Safely reopening our schools is going to take more money. More money to avoid teacher and staff layoffs, more money to purchase more PPE. More money to upgrade technology, and to catch up kids who have fallen behind. More money to provide the mental health services that our children will require. So, that's why I've called for at least $175 billion to stabilize our public schools.

Congress needs to act now to invest real money into stabilizing our state and local governments, stabilizing our child care, our K-12 public schools, and our colleges -- instead of blocking critical aid or using federal money to bribe schools into making dangerous public health decisions.

The lives of our students, the lives of our teachers, the lives of our school staff are on the line. And we will not allow their safety to be used as a bargaining chip.

So, time is of the essence on this. We must protect the livelihoods of our teachers, the education of our students, and the health and safety of our entire communities.


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