Last week at the National Press Club, National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen Garcia claimed teachers were having to “comfort crying children because they are afraid” of President Donald Trump.
Partial transcript as follows:
Our work happens inside and outside the classroom. Thousands of people in cities across the country took to the streets this week to protest this administration’s cruel, senseless ending of DACA. Many of them were our members supporting their students. And those same educators still showed up for school giving their kids hugs and homework. We have to be both: activists and educators.
And in this speech today, I have to be both. I have to talk about policy and politics but I have to somehow leave you with the importance of our work and what’s at stake for our students.
We are facing a reckless and irresponsible administration that creates chaos and confusion – which is bad – but he also creates fear in children, which is unforgiveable. For the first time in our country’s history, teachers had to comfort crying children because they were afraid of their president.
There were current events about Muslim bans and educators had to assure frightened children like little girls who wore hijabs or little boys named Mohammad that the president couldn’t hurt them.
There were current events about border walls to keep out Bad Hombres, and educators had to assure frightened children with names like Alfredo and Juanita that the president couldn’t hurt them.
There were current events about humiliating transgender students who just had to go to the bathroom and removing the protections against their discrimination, and educators had to assure frightened boys who were shaped like girls; and girls who were shaped like boys that the president couldn’t hurt them.
And this week there was a current event that this president was stripping away the protection for our Dreamers. He cruelly says he’s sure Congress will take care of it. Donald Trump is risking 800,000 lives. He risks nothing. These undocumented young people were brought here as children; they graduated from school and had no criminal record – young people who did not make the adult decision to come. They applied for and were granted protected status because of their special circumstances. DACA allowed them to go work; go to college or serve their country in the military.
DACA is an unqualified success on every level. It’s humane. It’s just. It’s pumping billions into our economy to have these educated, hardworking, enthusiastic young people paying taxes and buying homes and working and studying and starting businesses.
We want to comfort them. But it’s so hard to tell them that this president can’t hurt them. They know the truth. But we’ve taught them well. And they know and we know the right question to ask: What are we going to do about it.
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