The National Education Association’s president, Lily Eskelson Garcia, doesn’t believe there are any excuses for not giving every child the best public education possible.

“Whatever the wealthiest, well connected parents said, ‘We demand this for our students,’ that’s what we want for every student,” Garcia says. “When you say you can’t, what you mean is that we can only do it for these kids.”

The support services available in some of the wealthiest public schools, such as a sports and arts programs or a school nurse, are important factors in student success.

However, Garcia wants to go further. Many of the children in the poorest communities come from families under deep financial stress. To ensure more equality among public school students, schools in poorer communities may even need additional services, such as a nutrition program.

“Provide lunch, maybe even send snacks home; some of these kids don’t have dinner. I taught at a homeless shelter. I taught kids who were living in their cars. It means you might need something different, something more for those kids.”

Garcia, frustrated by the “handcuffing” of teachers and prominence of test scores in the No Child Left Behind Act, is advocating for a change to how schools are funded. She also wants teachers to have more creative freedom to do what they believe is best for their students.

“We are fed up with having our hands cuffed, and saying here is the script you read, everyone be on page 73 today, that’s not how kids learn.”

Check out our video for more on improving the public school system and Garcia’s view on how charter schools are not benefiting their communities.

Show More

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