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Remarks by NEA President Lily Eskelsen García at Rally for Gary Peters and Mark Schauer at Wayne State University in Detroit

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Detroit - November 01, 2014 -

¡Qué honor estar aquí! My name is Lily Eskelsen García. I am a sixth grade teacher from Utah. And I am president of the National Education Association—this country’s largest labor union that represents 3 million men and women who work for America’s public schools, colleges and universities. And I am in Michigan because I believe we’re going to make history here. I believe we are going to see champions for kids and public education win in Michigan.

I’m a teacher, and we’re weird. In what other job do you steal things from home and bring them to work? For a thousand years, we were supposed to be humble and loveable and underpaid and overworked and quietly accept what someone else decided for us and our students.

But I am not humble. I’m an amazing teacher. I was the Utah Teacher of the Year. You would want your kid in my sixth grade class. I’m proud of the work that my colleagues and I do. And so I care about who’s making decisions for my students. I care when there are candidates from the C.A.V.E. groups—the Citizens Against Virtually Everything. People who would privatize a public school for profit. People who scapegoat a teacher and blame them for the results of poverty and unemployment and families who don’t make a living wage. People who could suck the fun out of depression.

People who specialize in “Bash a Teacher.” It’s nothing new. It’s Deja Poo. We`ve stepped in this stuff before. And we’re not impressed. And we’re not afraid. We will fight to elect friends of public education, and we will not be moved. 

And we will not be popular. Because we’re a threat to billionaires. A man used to call me almost every day, and we’d have the same conversation. He’d say, “Lily, I just think those politicians would like you guys more if you just stayed out of politics.”

And I’d always listen to him. And then I’d always say: “Dad. We don’t care if they like us. We care if they listen to us. We care if they respect our students and their families and us.”

And we will fight for the people who fight for our students. People like Mark Schauer and Gary Peters. We will walk with them and phone bank with them and take our friends and family to the polls. We will show up, and we will win.

When we show up—we win. Will you show up? Will you bring 20 people with you?

Can we do this? ¡SÍ SE PUEDE! ¡Muchas gracias!


The National Education Association ( is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Follow on twitter at @neamedia.

Contact: Staci Maiers, NEA Communications, 202-270-5333 cell,


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