‘The future of public education is at stake’ — 215 advocates write to Biden

Dear Vice President Biden:

As the Democratic Party presumptive nominee, you have the power to fight for the public schools and colleges and universities that our students deserve. We are concerned educators, public education advocates, union members, parents, and students, writing to request that you demonstrate your commitment to that agenda.

Over the past decade, politicians on both sides of the aisle have made devastating cuts to public education, while privatizing public schools, scapegoating educators, and providing massive tax breaks to corporations and the rich. These attacks have resulted in a national teacher shortage and reduced educational opportunities for many of our students — especially students of color, those from low-income households, LGBTQ students, and students with disabilities.

The public health and economic emergencies resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have only made public education more vulnerable. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of public education itself is at stake.

To reverse this offensive against public education, we call on you to pledge to appoint a Secretary of Education publicly committed to reversing this failed billionaire-backed “education reform” agenda and we call on your campaign to immediately adopt the following policy planks:

* Implement a Federal Emergency Education Program that would:

Provide direct federal aid to ensure that school districts and public higher education institutions are able to prevent budget cuts and maintain pre-crisis staffing levels.

Empower educators to determine how best to utilize remote learning education technology when it is deemed necessary for health and safety reasons and how best to teach those students for whom remote learning is not feasible or appropriate.

Suspend all federal requirements relating to the use of high-stakes testing for the duration of the emergency.

* Triple Title I funding to ensure that at-risk schools get the funding and resources they need and invest in broadband so that students have access to critical resources.

* Repeal high-stakes testing mandates that force educators to “teach to the test.”

* Address the school-to-prison pipeline by investing in public schools and calling for the elimination of zero tolerance policies and over-policing.

* Ban for-profit charter schools and for-profit colleges and universities.

* Support the NAACP’s moratorium on public funds for charter school expansion until a national audit has been completed to determine the impact of charter growth in each state.

* Eliminate the $440 million annual federal subsidy for new charter schools, which have a failure rate of 40 percent and currently subsidizes billionaire-funded corporate charter schools.

* Give teachers a much-deserved raise by setting a starting salary for them at no less than $60,000 (pegged to the cost of living), expanding collective bargaining rights and teacher tenure, and funding out-of-pocket expenses for classroom materials.

* Strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by ensuring that the federal government provides at least 50 percent of the funding for special education.

* Provide year-round, free universal school meals, increase funding for Community Schools and after–school programs, and implement universal child-centered pre-kindergarten for all children beginning at the age of 3.

* Guarantee tuition-free public colleges, universities, HBCUs, Minority Serving Institutions and trade-schools to all, not just those who qualify through means-testing.

* Cancel all student loan debt and place a cap on student loan interest rates moving forward.


1. Diane Ravitch, education historian and activist

2. Jonathan Kozol, National Book Award-winning author and advocate for children

3. Danny Glover, Actor, Social Justice Advocate

4. Michael Moore, Academy Award-winning director

5. Alex Caputo-Pearl, President, United Teachers Los Angeles

6. Cecily Myart-Cruz, Vice President, United Teachers Los Angeles, NEA

7. Cornel West, Professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University

8. Senator Nina Turner, campaign co-chair, Bernie 2020 and former Ohio State Senator

9. Shaun King, CEO, The North Star

10. Debby Pope, Chicago Teachers Union, Delegate and Executive Board

11. Arlene Inouye, United Teachers Los Angeles Secretary

12. Carol Burris, 2013 NYS High School Principal of the Year, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education

13. Angelina Cruz, President of Racine Education Association

14. Demetrio Gonzalez, President of United Teachers of Richmond, CTA/NEA

15. Jesse Hagopian, Teacher; Editor, Rethinking Schools; Co-Editor, Teaching for Black Lives

16. Juan Ramirez, UTLA/AFT Vice President

17. Julie Van Winkle, UTLA Secondary Vice President-elect

18. Ari Bloomekatz, managing editor of Rethinking Schools

19. RoseAnn DeMoro, Former Executive Director of National Nurses United

20. Steven Thrasher, Professor, Northwestern University

21. Larry Cohen, Board Chair of Our Revolution and past president of the Communications Workers of America

22. Frank Holmquist, Professor of Politics, Emeritus, Hampshire College

23. Jane F. McAlevey, Organizer, Educator, Author

24. Cynthia Liu, K12 News Network

25. Eric Blanc, author Red State Revolt

26. Adolph Reed, Jr., Professor Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania

27. Nikhil Goyal, former adjunct professor at New York University and PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge

28. Charles Palermo, Professor of Art History, William & Mary

29. Bob Peterson, Rethinking Schools editor and Member, Milwaukee Board of School Directors

30. Eleanor J. Bader, English teacher and freelance writer

31. Kilynn Lunsford, National Organizer, Labor for Bernie

32. Annelise Orleck, Professor of History, Dartmouth College

33. Gordon Lafer, Professor, University of Oregon and Member, Eugene, OR Board of Education

34. Corey Robin, Professor, Brooklyn College, CUNY

35. Michael Lighty, Leading Advocate for Medicare for All

36. Joanna Wuest, Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer, Princeton University

37. Jennifer Ashton, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago

38. Penny Lewis, Associate Professor, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

39. Stephanie Luce, Professor, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

40. Steve London, Professor, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

41. Douglas A. Medina, Instructor, CUNY, Guttman Community College

42. Thomas J Adams, Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney (US Citizen)

43. Cedric Johnson, University of Illinois at Chicago

44. Samir Sonti, Assistant Professor, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

45. Steve Striffler, Professor, UMass Boston

46. Allen Cholger, Sub District Director, USW (retired) and former Executive Assistant to the President, APWU, (retired)

47. William Mello, Associate Professor of Labor Studies, Indiana University

48. Nomiki Konst, Director, Matriarch

49. Nancy Fraser, Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics, New School for Social Research

50. Liza Featherstone, Adjunct Professor, New York University and Columbia University

51. Bruno Gulli, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

52. Christian Parenti, Associate Professor of Economics, John Jay College CUNY

53. Rebecca Tarlau, Pennsylvania State University

54. Glenn Kaplan, filmmaker, Member IATSE Local 600

55. Rick Armstrong, Associate Professor Department of English, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

56. Heather Lee Compton, Studio Zahiya

57. Meg Kallman Feeley, Adjunct Lecturer English, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

58. Merlin Chowkwanyun, Donald Gemson Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

59. Jim Zogby, Founder of the Arab American Institute

60. Daniel Moak, Assistant Professor, Ohio University

61. Wamiq Chowdhury, Attorney, Member NC Piedmont Democratic Socialists of America

62. Sarah Cate, Assistant Professor, Saint Louis University

63. Rebecca Garelli, Lead Organizer, Arizona Educators United

64. Marquita Walker, Interim Chair and Associate Professor of Labor Studies, Indiana University

65. Rogers M. Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

66. James Counts Early, Board Member, Institute for Policy Studies

67. Steve Presence, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, University of the West of England

68. Colleen Mihal, Professor, College of Marin

69. Lisa McLaughlin, Ph.D, Associate Professor, Department of Media, Journalism and Film and Department of Global and Intercultural Studies, Miami University-Ohio

70. Christopher R. Martin, Professor of Digital Journalism, University of Northern Iowa

71. Karyn Hollis, Villanova University

72. Adam Safer, Graduate Student, Stony Brook University

73. Bryan Wagner, Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley

74. Janice Peck, Professor, Media Studies Department, University of Colorado at Boulder

75. Paul Prescod, Political Liaison in Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

76. Kevin Howley, Professor of Media Studies, DePauw University

77. Eric Cheyfitz, Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters, Professor of American Indian and Indigenous Studies

78. Carlos Figueroa, Ithaca College

79. Gino Canella, Assistant Professor and filmmaker, Emerson College

80. Daniel Brenner, Teacher, Eastern Suffolk BOCES (retired)

81. Michelle Strater Gunderson, First Grade Teacher, Chicago Public Schools, Trustee, Chicago Teachers Union

82. Robert Vitalis, University of Pennsylvania

83. Max Page, University of Massachusetts Amherst

84. Nathan Godfried, Adelaide & Alan Bird Professor, University of Maine

85. Inger Stole, University of Illinois

86. Philip Fiermonte, Former Burlington City Councilor

87. Joel Jordan, former Director of Special Projects, United Teachers Los Angeles

88. Rich Potter, Assistant Professor, American Jewish University

89. Kevin Gotkin, Visiting Assistant Professor, New York University

90. Lee Artz, Purdue University Northwest

91. Dr. Eileen R. Meehan, Professor Emerita, Department of Radio, Television and New Media, College of Communications, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois

92. Jay O’Neal, West Virginia teacher and strike leader

93. Emily Schnee, Professor of English, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York

94. David Duhalde, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Fund

95. Roxana Marachi, Associate Professor of Education, San José State University

96. Jeffrey A. Winters, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Equality Development and Globalization Studies Program, Northwestern University

97. Rod Metts, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, California State University, San Bernardino

98. Nino Gulli, Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland Global Campus, UMGC

99. William Riordan, History Instructor at the University of Colorado

100. Nicole McCormick, President, Mercer County Education Association

101. Mary Summers, Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania

102. Doug Henwood, Journalist

103. Herbert G. Reid, Professor Emeritus, University of Kentucky, Department of Political Science

104. Christina Dunbar-Hester, 2019-2020 Berggruen Fellow, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

105. Hadrian Predock, Associate Professor of Practice, University of Southern California School of Architecture

106. Robert M. Saltzman, Emeritus Professor of Lawyering Skills, USC Gould School of Law

107. Howard A. Rodman, Professor, University of Southern California, Past President, Writers Guild of America West 108. Larry Gross, Professor, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California

109. Mark Jonathan Harris, Distinguished Professor, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California

110. Kathy Smith, Professor, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California

111. Miki Turner, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California 112. Sean T. Mitchell, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Rutgers University, Newark

113. Rebecca C. Glasscock, Professor Emerita, Geography and Peace Studies, Bluegrass Community and Technical College

114. Priya Kapoor, Professor, Portland State University

115. Carlin Meyer, Prof. Emerita, New York Law School

116. Rianne Subijanto, Assistant Professor, Baruch College, CUNY

117. Janet Poppendieck, author, Free for All: Fixing School Food in America

118. Tulia Falleti, Class of 1965 Endowed Term Professor of Political Science, Director of Latin American and Latino Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania

119. Tulia Falleti, Class of 1965 Endowed Term Professor of Political Science, Director of Latin American and Latino Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania

120. Micaela di Leonardo, Professor, Northwestern University

121. Judith E. Smith, Professor Emerita of American Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston

122. Julie Van Winkle, Secondary Vice President-elect of United Teachers Los Angeles

123. Lawrence Blum, Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Education, Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Boston

124. Michael Schwartz, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Emeritus, Founding Director, College of Global Studies

125. Richard Lachmann, Professor of Sociology, University at Albany SUNY

126. Keith Brooks, retired educator, NYC alternative high school division

127. Richard Strier, Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of English, University of Chicago

128. Laura Anker, Distinguished Service Professor, American Studies, SUNY Old Westbury

129. Alan Gilbert, Distinguished University Professor, Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

130. Susan Jhirad, retired Professor of English from North Shore Community College

131. Bill Bigelow, Curriculum Editor, Rethinking Schools

132. Kathy Hall, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania

133. Jane Kauer, Consulting Scholar, Physical Anthropology Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum

134. Ilana Gershon, Ruth N. Hall professor of anthropology, Indiana University

135. Karen Koran, retired educator, School District of Philadelphia

136. Ana Croegaert, Assistant Professor, Anthropology + Sociology, University of New Orleans

137. Amy Stornaiuolo, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania

138. Brenda Beaudette-Kaim, French Department, University of Vermont

139. Kathryn Moeller, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

140. Bonnie Urciuoli, Professor Emerita, Anthropology, Hamilton College

141. Christy Schuetze, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Swarthmore College

142. Fran Ansley, Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Tennessee College of Law

143. Frederick Erickson, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles

144. Arléne Amarante, Assistant Professor of Law at Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law

145. Karen Weinstein, Peralta Community College District

146. Alessandra Visconti, assistant professor of instruction, Northwestern University

147. Polly Murphy – Retired teacher TN School for the Deaf

148. Alan Spector, Professor of Sociology, Purdue University Northwest

149. Maria Catalfio, retired member, OPEIU Local 494

150. Ann Jefferson, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Lecturer, retired

151. Piotr Axer, PhD Candidate in Slavic Studies at Brown University

152. Bonnie Blustein, Professor of Mathematics, West Los Angeles College

153. Frances Maher, Professor Emerita, Wheaton College

154. Matt Witt, Editor, World Wide Work

155. John C. Berg, Professor Emeritus, Suffolk University

156. Ana Celia Zentella, Professor Emerita, UCSD Department of Ethnic Studies

157. Arleen Llanes, Middle School School Teacher, Bay Area

158. Daniel Merin, Climate and Culture Coach, Office of School Climate and Safety, School District of Philadelphia

159. Sylvia Lester, Child Psychologist, NYU Postdoctoral Program for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy

160. Julia A. McWilliams, Lecturer, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, University of Pennsylvania

161. Monica Emerich, Instructional Designer/Project Manager, CSU Global Campus

162. Judy Norsigian, Co-founder and board chair, Our Bodies Ourselves

163. Rachel Rubin, Professor and Chair, University of Massachusetts Boston

164. Danya Lagos, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Texas at Austin

165. Elizabeth Manley, Kellogg Endowed Professor, Associate Professor of History, Xavier University of Louisiana

166. Gianmarco Savio, Assistant Professor, County College of Morris

167. Andrea Reyna, public middle school teacher; California Democratic Party Executive Board, San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee

168. Maia Cucchiara, Associate Professor, Urban Education, Temple University

169. Jeffrey Melnick, Professor of American Studies, UMass Boston

170. Sherene Seikaly, Associate Professor of History, University of California Santa Barbara

171. Nelson Lichtenstein, Distinguished Professor of History, University of California Santa Barbara

172. Alice O’Connor, Professor of History and Director of Blum Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Democracy, University of California Santa Barbara

173. Eileen Boris, Hull Professor and Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California Santa Barbara

174. Linda Burrows, Public School Teacher

175. Laurie Katz, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Ohio State University

176. Wayne Au, Professor, University of Washington Bothell

177. Susan Fountain, Adjunct Professor, CUNY School of Professional Studies

178. Robert Farrell, Associate Professor and Chair PSC-CUNY Chapter at Lehman College, CUNY

179. Elizabeth Hovey, John Jay College, CUNY

180. Glenn Kissack, Retired Mathematics Teacher, Hunter College High School

181. Leo Parascondola, Adjunct Lecturer, William Paterson University

182. Michael Spear, Assistant Professor of History, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

183. Jonathan Buchsbaum, Media Studies, Queens College, CUNY

184. Sigmund Shen, Associate Professor, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

185. Dwight Billings, Professor Emeritus, University of Kentucky

186. Richard Maxwell, Professor, Queens College, CUNY

187. Stan Karp, Editor, Rethinking Schools

188. Lori Rothstein, CUNY Graduate Center

189. Carol Stabile, Professor, University of Oregon

190. Eileen Moran, Queens College, CUNY

191. Phaedra Pezzullo, Associate Professor, Dept. of Communication, University of Colorado Boulder

192. Philip Barnett, Professor, City College and Graduate Center, CUNY

193. Priya Kapoor, Professor, Portland State University

194. Rachel Youens, Adjunct Assistant Professor, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

195. Vincent DiGirolamo, Assistant Professor and PSC Chapter Chair, Baruch College, CUNY

196. Ryan Bruckenethal, New York City Special Education Teacher, United Federation of Teachers

197. Gabriel Winant, Assistant Professor, University of Chicago

198. Ruth Wangerin, Department of Anthropology, Lehman College, CUNY

199. Kathleen Offenholley, Professor of Mathematics, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

200. Olga Steinberg, Professor, Hostos Community College, CUNY

201. David Gerwin, Professor, Dept. of Secondary Education and PSC Chapter Chair, Queens College, CUNY

202. Eric Freas, Associate Professor of History, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

203. Jocelyn Wills, Tow Professor of History and Affiliated Faculty Member, American Studies & Women’s and Gender Studies, Brooklyn College, CUNY

204. Marc Kagan, Graduate Assistant, CUNY Graduate Center

205. Ruth Milkman, Professor of Sociology, CUNY

206. Nelly Tournaki, Professor of Special Education, College of Staten Island, CUNY

207. Adam Sanchez, Teacher; Editor, Rethinking Schools; Zinn Education Project

208. Blanca Vazquez, Adjunct Associate Professor (Retired), Film and Media Studies, Hunter College, CUNY

209. Lisa Rivera, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts, Boston

210. Josh Staub, Director of Restorative Programming, School District of Philadelphia

211. Rachel Buff, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

212. Christopher Zurn, Professor of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts, Boston

213. Eric Fishman, Elementary School Teacher, Boston Public Schools

214. Susan Kang, Associate Professor of Political Science, John Jay University, CUNY

215. Sarah Soanirina Ohmer, Assistant Professor, Department of Latin American and Africana Studies, Lehman College, CUNY

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