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Together, we’re going to reach the light at end of the tunnel

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President Denise Specht

Certain politicians can say whatever they want, but Joe Biden is going to be the next president of the United States because millions of voters came together to insist their government care for all its citizens, regardless of what they look like, where they live or how they pray.

I’m proud to say the work of thousands of Minnesota educators helped deliver our state’s 10 electoral votes for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. That win wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen by accident.

Only nine months ago, the pundits called Minnesota a battleground state. Too close to call, they said.

Of course, “they” didn’t know about the thousands of phone calls and texts educators would make. They didn’t predict the more than 110 GOTV events our educators would sponsor. You can bet no one expected the trifecta of farm animals at the “Get out the Goat” event in Dakota County right before Election Day.

Because he didn’t understand Minnesotans, the outgoing president believed he could turn our state red. He made four trips here and sent his family members and vice president for others. His campaign spent more than $6.5 million on advertising alone, according to published estimates. Most of it was intended to fuel divisions, based race and ZIP code.

But it didn’t work. More than 1.7 million Minnesotans across race and place turned out and elected Biden and Harris by 7 percentage points. As I write this in mid-November, the outgoing president continues to make claims without evidence and threatens the transition process. It’s a desperate and doomed attempt to hold onto power. Minnesota’s educators and our neighbors are ready to move forward to deliver a better future for our families and our students.

We’re ready for a new president committed to fighting the pandemic with all the resources of the federal government. We’re ready for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to go home and for Biden to honor his promise to replace her with an educator with classroom experience. And we’re hoping the experts are right and a vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19 will be widely available in the spring or summer.

We’re ready for the light at end of the long dark tunnel we’re in right now.

A wave of school districts are moving to distance learning during this fall surge of COVID-19. In many places, there are too many educators out sick or in quarantine to open the buildings safely.

Surveys tell us educators are exhausted by learning models that demand they do two jobs at once and demoralized by administrators who don’t support them.

The Legislature comes back in January to face a raging pandemic, a giant budget deficit and a long-overdue reckoning on race—but it’s a divided Legislature in which the party that received fewer votes still controls the Senate because of how the electoral maps were drawn.

These are difficult times, there’s no denying it, but there’s reason to hope. Our union and our allies beat the odds in the race for president because we believe in something better for our communities and we’re willing to make it happen.

That same spirit—and a lot of collaboration, deliberation and caution—will bring our schools through this fall surge stronger than they started. We can still insist the wealthiest 1 percent and the largest corporations finally pay their fair share for the things that benefit us all, including public education.

Impossible? No. We’re educators and Minnesotans and we can do hard things. Besides, as Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”


Twitter: @DeniseSpecht

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