Our country is divided, but looking back at NYSUT’s powerful 50-year history shows us the way forward to recovery and unity, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said.
“You’re the antidote to division, anger and scapegoating,” Weingarten said. “We choose hope over fear. Aspiration over anger. That’s who we are. That’s who NYSUT is.”
Weingarten said the extremists are exploiting the pandemic’s two years of anxiety and uncertainty to wage cultural wars and scapegoat educators. She noted the current climate is jet-fueled by social media, conspiracy theorists and corporate giants.
“You’ve gone from being called heroes to being cast as villains for being concerned about safety,” Weingarten said. “We must confront this uncertainty, this anger because labor is a path for many to dignity, respect … to be able to sleep at night.”
She said NYSUT’s remarkable history shows what happens when you join together for something bigger: a better life for all. Because of NYSUT’s steadfast advocacy, Weingarten said, “we just heard the governor say the age of disinvestment is over. We’ve got to hold her to that.”
So whether it’s advocating for community school funding or making the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program “real,” Weingarten said unions must continue leading the way.
“As others are banning books, AFT is giving books away,” Weingarten said. “We’re the changemakers.”