CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called attention to the Chicago teachers’ strike at an event for Teacher Union Day in New York on Sunday.
Biden spoke Sunday at an event organized by the United Federation of Teachers, the union representing New York City teachers. The event was held at the New York Hilton on Sixth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
In his address, Biden spoke about teachers’ strikes and called them courageous, and he specifically brought up the strike by members of the Chicago Teachers’ Union that began this past Thursday.
“It was pretty novel 60 years ago. It took some courage to decide to go on strike; walk out. We celebrate the bravery of those teachers today and the school professionals that went with them,” Biden said. “But we also know that no educator wants to go on strike. It’s the last damn thing you want to do. The teachers’ strike in Chicago right now, you know every one of them would much rather be in the classroom, for real. For real – with their kids.”
Teachers walked out on Thursday after locking horns with the Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Public Schools on several issues – notably including staffing and class sizes.
CTU leaders said the city has made commitments to reducing class sizes and increasing staffing, but the union wants to include language to enforce those provisions.
Mayor Lightfoot said Saturday that it is unlikely a deal will get done in time to resume classes on Monday.
In his address in New York, Biden also said he would take on the National Rifle Association and implied a link between the gun-rights organization and school shootings. He said he would “take on the NRA so we don’t have kids going to school learn how to duck and cover.”
Biden further said the next U.S. Secretary of Education should be someone with teaching experience. Current Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and of the Windquest Group investment and management firm, who is known for supporting charter schools, school choice, and vouchers.
“Four years of Betsy DeVos is plenty, it’s enough. It’s enough,” Biden said. “And I’ve been saying this and I mean it, we’re going to make sure the next Secretary of Education is a teacher, someone who’s taught in a classroom.”