Vice President Kamala Harris began her address to delegates at the NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago yesterday by remembering the victims of the July 4 shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, not far from the site of the RA.
“We need to end this horror, we need to stop this violence,” she told educators from across the country. “We must protect our communities from the terror of gun violence.”
She continued, to resounding applause, “Teachers should not have to practice barricading a classroom. Teachers should not have to know how to treat a gunshot wound. And teachers should not be told that ‘Lives would have been saved if you only had a gun.’”
While recognizing the importance of historic federal gun safety legislation recently passed by Congress and signed by President Biden, Harris said, “We have more to do, and Congress needs to have the courage to act.”
In her remarks to NEA RA delegates, Harris also thanked teachers for everything they have done over the last very challenging years, teaching through a pandemic, and emphasized the importance of unions. She said that the Biden-Harris administration intends to be the most pro-union administration in history, and that she and Biden will continue to fully support educators.
“We are determined to fight for a future where a teacher’s wage can provide for a family,” Harris said. “I know it is still the case that some of you are working two jobs, some maybe even three. We are determined to fight for a future where you never again have to spend your own money on school supplies to meet your students’ needs.”
Though many educators are discouraged by the direction their country is headed, Harris reminded them that progress is not linear and that elections this fall provide an opportunity to campaign for and vote in politicians who share their values.
“We can’t throw up our hands when it’s time to roll up our sleeves,” she said.