How Bernie Sanders Became Teachers’ Favorite Candidate


Katie Nash has been a fan of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) since she noticed him converse at an area political rally within the lead as much as the 2016 election, however she was cautious to not get her hopes up. Although his worldview aligned with hers, she suspected others would possibly discover his progressive beliefs unrealistic and lofty. She didn’t suppose he had an opportunity of gaining widespread help as a presidential candidate. 

That modified in 2018, when she and round 20,000 different lecturers in Arizona participated in a statewide walkout over points of faculty funding and low pay. Nash ― who had by no means beforehand donated to or caucused for a politician ― described it as a political awakening. Seeing 1000’s of fellow lecturers combating alongside her for higher faculties made her understand that perhaps she and her neighbors had extra in widespread than she thought. 

Ever because the walkout, Nash, a instructor of 14 years, advised HuffPost she “hasn’t stopped doing one thing.” Within the lead as much as 2020, she has donated to the Sanders marketing campaign, hosted a home celebration to drum up enthusiasm and took part in organizing calls. 

“Seeing what’s potential with grassroots allayed my doubts about his marketing campaign,” mentioned Nash, who’s now president of her native union chapter.  

Nash is considered one of many lecturers who appear to be “feeling the Bern.” Much more Ok-12 lecturers are donating to Sanders than another candidate. From Jan. 1, 2019, via Dec. 31, 2019, lecturers have donated over $2 million to the candidate, in accordance with information supplied to HuffPost by the Heart for Responsive Politics. They’re his prime group of donors by occupation, adopted by servers, bartenders and cooks, after which nurses and caregivers, in accordance with his marketing campaign. 

Sanders has additionally acquired notable endorsements from massive, influential lecturers unions, like United Academics Los Angeles and the Clark County Training Affiliation.

Whereas former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.) beforehand led an inside ballot carried out by the American Federation of Academics, the nation’s second largest lecturers union, they’ve acquired fewer donations from this group of execs, indicating that even when help is extra widespread, it might be much less intense. Warren ― who frolicked working as a public college instructor ― has acquired the second highest sum of money from Ok-12 lecturers, at $875,000 (she has acquired extra donations from professors than another candidate). Biden, however, has solely acquired $393,000 from this group, in accordance with the numbers from the Heart for Responsive Politics.

Academics For Bernie

HuffPost spoke to eight Ok-12 lecturers across the nation about why so many lecturers appear to be connecting with Sanders. They level to his Ok-12 schooling plan, which was launched earlier than another candidate in Could 2019, and pushes again on what they see as an effort to denationalise public faculties; his robust help for widespread social security nets that may profit college students dwelling in poverty; and his proposals without cost school and canceling scholar debt, the latter of which they are saying resonates particularly with professionals who dedicate their lives to public service.

However some, notably, additionally cited his robust help for unions and pointed to overlapping ethos’ between his marketing campaign and the motion of instructor strikes that has swept cities and states prior to now few years. 

“The instructor strike wave during the last two years is without doubt one of the most essential political developments within the nation and positively for the labor motion,” mentioned Eric Blanc, a surrogate for the Sanders marketing campaign who wrote a guide concerning the instructor strikes. “One thing about collaborating in a motion like that, in a strike, raises your confidence and expectations for what you deserve and may win.”

Certainly, for some lecturers, like Nash, in addition to Nicole McCormick in West Virginia, Sanders’ 2016 presidential marketing campaign and the instructor strikes are inextricably linked.

McCormick, president of her native schooling affiliation in Mercer County, says she used to really feel politically disconnected. She didn’t see her views on earnings inequality, well being care or public schooling represented by any mainstream candidate. That modified after Sanders’ first presidential marketing campaign. 

“To see there have been a whole lot of 1000’s of individuals if no more who felt the identical manner I did about earnings inequality … I simply began issues otherwise,” mentioned McCormick, a center college music instructor, who has been instructing for 11 years. 

McCormick was fast to get entangled with organizing the West Virginia lecturers strike in 2018 by way of a secret Fb group that allowed educators to swap tales and plan actions. She suspects that help for Sanders throughout the state ― he beat Clinton in West Virginia in the course of the 2016 Democratic main ― helped prime the general public with hope for one thing higher. 

“After we went into that strike it’s like, I had that feeling of solidarity,” she mentioned. “I used to be reaffirmed that folks shared my values every time we began escalating motion for the strike.”

Scott Heins by way of Getty Photos

Supporters cheer for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who spoke at a rally in help of the Chicago Academics Union forward of an upcoming potential strike.

The lecturers HuffPost interviewed  ― who, typically, labored in high-poverty faculties ― additionally join their help of Sanders to their firsthand view of the uneven enjoying discipline that begins at delivery between wealthy and poor college students.  

“So lots of my college students, their mother and father are barely making it. If well being care wasn’t tied to their job or wages have been higher … they may have a mother or father there to assist them with homework,” mentioned McCormick. 

There was a race to achieve the help of lecturers amongst all Democratic campaigns, with most candidates participating in in depth outreach with unions. Candidates like Sanders and Warren have particularly aimed to help placing lecturers.

Sanders has written op-eds in native newspapers in help of this group and held solidarity occasions, encouraging its lengthy checklist of supporters to point out as much as picket traces to help lecturers, in accordance with Heather Gautney, the Sanders marketing campaign schooling coverage adviser. Warren has additionally constantly expressed her help for placing lecturers, and each the candidates confirmed up in Chicago just lately to again lecturers who went on strike this previous fall. 

The lecturers say they’ve seen the trouble. 

“Training has not been made a precedence so subsequently lecturers aren’t handled like professionals,” mentioned Nash. “I believe [Sanders] is one of the best one making these connections.” 



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