New leader pushes teachers’ union to take on social justice role

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“I don’t think unions play well when we see urban and suburban parents not particularly happy with what has happened in schools over the past 18 months,” said Frederick M. Hess, director of studies at education policies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

What drives Ms Pringle, she said, is a long-standing need that is increasingly pressing now: “to reclaim public education as a common good and turn it into something she was never designed to be: racially and socially fair and equitable. “

She sees both the pandemic, which has exposed the glaring inequalities that have plagued the country’s education system for decades, and the presidency of Mr Biden, who has pledged to make equity a cornerstone of its development. policies, as opportunities to achieve this goal.

Although the focus was on her relationship with the White House, Ms Pringle lobbied virtually every cabinet secretary for more money for things like “community schools” that provide social services to students. low-income families and their families, which made it in the president’s budget; and electric school buses, which were part of the sprawling bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“I can listen to him talk about fairness and come out of it smarter,” said Miguel Cardona, education secretary.

Ms Pringle seeks to position her union at the forefront of the social justice movement – a tall order, some say, for an organization whose membership is over 70% white, with a large number of members living in Purple and red states. Her success, she believes, is tied to having Mr. Biden as a partner.

“It’s not lost on me that I’m a black leader right now, pushing this forward,” she said. “But I am not alone. Joe Biden speaking of racial justice is no small feat.


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