Thank you, Kabby. Your passion for your students shines through in everything you do.
Thank you, Principal Taylor and Glacier Edge for the warm welcome.
Mayor Rhodes-Conway, and the other elected leaders joining us, thank you for taking the time to be here today.
And, Becky and Randi you always show up for your members. And we’re all so thankful for your leadership and commitment to helping educators thrive across the country.
I am truly honored to be here with all of you.
You—all of you—make me proud to be a longtime member of the NEA—and an honorary member of the AFT.
With each new school year, we stand on the precipice of possibility. Hallways once again overflow with the roar of life—shrieks of excitement shattering the summer calm—welcoming us to our next chapter.
And as educators it’s hard not to wonder about the students we’re about to meet: What will help their imaginations soar? Who do they hope to become? And what will they push us to discover together?
But for some, those moments have been ripped away.
Last week, on Maui, I spoke with teachers and administrators, counselors and librarians who had lost so much: loved ones, homes, schools—and their dreams for the new school year.
But even amid their personal devastation, they were searching for a way forward for their students.
And as I’ve traveled the country, again and again, I’ve seen educators’ resilience in the face of impossible odds: flooding and fires, violence and a pandemic.
But then, that’s who we are as educators, isn’t it?
We chose this path out of love for what we do and who we teach.
And I think that message matters more than ever. Because lately, when I turn on the TV, I see pundits attacking our public schools and saying that parents and educators are at odds.
But that’s not what I’ve seen. I’ve visited schools where parents and educators are working hand in hand to help kids overcome challenges and make learning better for everyone.
There’s no divide between those who love our students and those who teach them—because we all do both.
This isn’t just a job that we walk away from at 3:15. When we’re caring for our own kids, we’re thinking about someone else’s children too.
To answer this call of service is, in itself, an act of hope. Because this isn’t just a job. It’s a calling. And all of you were called to this profession for a reason. Because you never give up on the families you serve. Because you continue to believe that a better world is possible—and you make that world real, one student at a time. And none of that could happen without the support of our unions.
I am here today to say that you aren’t in this alone. You have a friend in the White House—two in fact: Me, and my husband, Joe.
I always knew that Joe would be an education President. Because this means so much to him. And he’s delivered on his promises: From addressing the mental health and academic needs of our students… to signing the bipartisan gun safety bill…to loan forgiveness for public servants.
And, here in Wisconsin, he is grateful for incredible partners like Senator Baldwin and Governor Evers.
Tomorrow, as you step back into your classrooms, I hope you remember that right now, someone out there is standing a little taller because you helped her find the confidence she needed. Someone is working a little harder because you pushed him to try. Someone is braver because you helped her find her courage.
We know there are still challenges ahead. But we do this work because it’s who we are: We’re optimists. We’re true believers. We’re union members!
We stand together and we fight for the communities we care about.
Have a great school year.