When it comes to education, the voices of classified employees are not always heard. But at the Public Education Forum held in Pittsburg on December 14, 2019, SEIU Local 99 members made sure that the role of special education assistants, teacher assistants, bus drivers, food service workers, custodians and others were recognized by everyone in attendance – including candidates for U.S. President!
“We met with classified employees, teachers, parents, students, civil rights groups, and others from all across the country who are fighting for an excellent public education for all students, just like we are here at Local 99,” said Marisol Aguilar, a member of our SEIU Local 99 Executive Board and a Special Education Assistant at the Los Angeles Unified School District. The conference featured seven candidates for U.S. President who responded to questions about how they will ensure that all students have access to a quality education – no matter where they live, where they come from, or the color of their skin.
Marisol was joined at the Forum by Jeannette Verbera, an LAUSD Special Education Assistant and Max Arias, SEIU Local 99 Executive Director. They were among the audience addressing presidential candidates about their stance on education, including Senator Michael Bennet, Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Senator Elizabeth Warren. (Cory Booker was not able to attend due to an illness). The forum was broadcast on MSNBC and you can watch it here.
After a presentation by Presidential Candidate and Former Vice President Joe Biden, Marisol urged him recognize the role of classified employees in education. “Don’t forget about us,” she told him. “Classified employees make education work.” They also schooled Biden on the role of family child care providers in ensuring children get a strong start in early education. “Family child care providers are not babysitters. They teach our youngest learners and prepare them to succeed in school.”
The forum was presented by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) a partnership of education organizations that SEIU Local 99 is a part of. AROS believes that the best way to ensure each and every child has the opportunity to pursue a rich and productive life is through a system of publicly funded, equitable and democratically controlled public schools.