On Thursday, leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles voted to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic primary, making them the first teachers’ union in the nation to endorse a candidate.
Sanders, who has received more donations from K-12 teachers than any other Democratic candidate, won 80 percent of the votes from UTLA’s elected House of Representatives and 72.5 percent of votes from elected site representatives, following a six-week engagement campaign with union members.
Tonight #UTLAStrong House of Reps voted 80% to endorse #BernieSanders, following the most comprehensive member engagement process UTLA ever conducted for a political candidate. Like UTLA, Sanders believes in building a national movement for lasting change. https://t.co/RRG7fhOViR pic.twitter.com/sdERYo5Ffo
— United Teachers Los Angeles (@UTLAnow) November 15, 2019
UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl praised Sanders prioritization of public education and progressive policies. “Sanders is the first viable major candidate in 25 years in the Democratic Party to stand up against privatization, the charter billionaires, and high-stakes testing and to stand up for a massive redistribution of wealth to schools and social services,” said Caputo-Pearl. “Critically, like UTLA, Senator Sanders believes in building a national movement for real, lasting change.”
Last January, UTLA—the second-largest teachers’ union in the nation—went on a six-day strike, holding demonstrations across the city and ultimately winning concessions from the school board that promised smaller class sizes, raises for teachers, more nurses and librarians, and a call for a temporary cap on charter schools, until their impact on public schools can be further assessed. Sanders was the first U.S. politician to publicly support the strike.
In May, Sanders released a ten-point plan to improve public schools, which called for a similar audit of charter school programs. Changes to the property tax-based model for school funding, raises for teachers, protections for teachers’ unions, and increased funding for community schools were also among the promises listed in the plan.
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