Only days ago, the American Federation of Teachers encouraged its members to support one of the following three candidates: Joe Biden, Bernard Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren.

Today, Randi announced her support for Warren. Some locals, such as UTLA, have already endorsed Sanders. The AFT endorsement will be one of the three already named.

This is Randi’s personal statement:

Why I’m Supporting Elizabeth Warren

I get asked a lot by our members and others about which candidate I’m supporting for president. And I often pivot to the stakes in this election, and to a plea for unity for the ultimate Democratic nominee. In this election—clearly, the most important in our lifetime—our voices and our actions matter. For me, for my family, my union, our members and their families, and the communities we serve—the outcome of the presidential and congressional elections in November will have momentous consequences.

This election represents an existential crisis for our democracy and our very way of life. Will we be a country that privileges the unimaginably wealthy over people who work every day to build a better life for their families? Will we support the rights of all our children to attend safe and welcoming public schools where they can get a world-class education and the wraparound services they need to help overcome challenges they might face? Will we permit young people to drown in college debt that compromises their future? Will we provide affordable, accessible healthcare and affordable, needed prescription drugs to all, regardless of whether they have pre-existing conditions or live in rural areas? Will we turn a blind eye to this nation’s burgeoning bigotry, racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, hate and acts of violence? Will we literally save the planet for future generations? Will we preserve and strengthen our democracy?

And that doesn’t even address having a president with the basic competency to handle a global public health crisis like coronavirus that no longer falls into a neat ideological “them versus us” bucket.

Neither I nor the AFT executive council thought the answers to these questions could wait. We decided we couldn’t sit on the sidelines waiting for a challenger to emerge from these primary contests.

As a union, we’ve had a robust endorsement process that more than 300,000 members have engaged in. Now, as most of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be elected in the coming weeks, we thought it was time to go from listening and questioning to advocacy and support.

We believe as a union that three Democratic candidates best represent the values and concerns of our members and the communities we serve: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Our members are supporting these three candidates because they share our values, and we know we can count on them. Each has been a strong and reliable advocate for ensuring safe and welcoming environments in our schools, our hospitals and our communities; investing in public schools, colleges and services that are necessary to fund our future; protecting the freedom to teach and the freedom to care so we can meet our students’ and patients’ needs; fighting for the freedom to live securely on one job’s wages, with a decent retirement and the right to join a union, and without catastrophic healthcare costs or crushing student debt; fighting the destructive hate, bigotry and divisiveness that are undermining our democracy; and fighting to secure justice for all.

Any of these three Democrats would be a transformational improvement over Donald Trump. And the AFT is encouraging our members and our affiliates, including all our leaders, to support—actively and vocally—any of them.

But when I am asked which candidate I will vote for, I’ve personally concluded that there is one who has the life experience that brings an understanding of what families—all families— need today to have a better future, the bold agenda to achieve that better life, and the wherewithal to work with others to turn her ideas into reality. And, of course, the toughness and persistence to take on Donald Trump.

That’s why today I am announcing my personal support for our champion, my friend, former teacher and professor—Sen. Elizabeth Warren. I will vote for her in the New York primary on April 28.

It’s a big deal that there’s a former special education teacher running for president. Being a teacher means being fearless and flexible, loving and compassionate, hardworking and resilient, and dedicated and devoted to making life better for all kids and families. Being a teacher means having an innate understanding of the value of public education and what is needed to help all children succeed and to support all educators.

Elizabeth Warren gets this. She infuses all of those qualities and experiences into her candidacy for president. They’re evident in the plans she’s unveiled and her actions as consumer advocate and senator. And we see it in how she’s running her campaign for president.

Yes, she is smart and fearless. Yes, she has plan after plan to invest in public education, child care, infrastructure and healthcare. Yes, she has a plan to restore our democracy; fight corruption; unrig our economy so it benefits working people, with a specific focus on communities of color; and make sure our children inherit a healthier earth. But she has also shown throughout her career the ability not just to raise problems but also to turn ideas into action and get things done. That’s what we need in our next president. This election isn’t just a referendum on Donald Trump, as important as that is. It is our chance to chart a new direction for our nation and create the better life people aspire to. We need a leader up for the challenge of both defeating Donald Trump and accomplishing real change for the American people. That’s Elizabeth Warren.

Beating Expectations

On going toe-to-toe with Donald Trump, let’s remember who she defeated in 2012 to become senator. Scott Brown was a bombastic fake populist, born of the tea party and an early prototype of Trump-style politics. I remember when everyone counted her out, when people said a woman just couldn’t beat Scott Brown, and when she was down by double digits in the polls. Nevertheless, she persisted, and she worked to gain the trust and support of voters—and she beat Scott Brown by double digits.

Saying the Hard Things

And just look at her most recent debate performances after the media totally wrote her off. Just imagine the debate between Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren, if he will even debate her, because she will expose his lies and damage to our nation. And because she is a smart and strategic debater and thinker, she’s already gotten results by raising real and legitimate issues with Michael Bloomberg. While the fight might have gotten the headlines, Warren’s public pressure led Bloomberg to lift several nondisclosure agreements with women so they can share their stories if they choose. That’s getting things done.

A Game-Changer for Public Education

When it comes to public education, Biden, Sanders and Warren all have bold plans to support public schools, help all children, and support educators. But Warren embeds her experience as a special education teacher and professor into her proposals. And after a decade of disinvestment, teacher bashing and testing that supplanted the needs of children, only to be followed by the DeVos agenda to defund and decimate public education in favor of failed vouchers and privatization, it would be great to send a teacher to the White House.

Sen. Warren’s plans for public education would be a game-changer for our public schools and the 90 percent of America’s students who attend them. It is focused, first and foremost, on creating and cultivating the vibrant, safe and welcoming environments kids deserve, and on providing educators the voice and supports they need as professionals to help their students learn and thrive.

Quadrupling funding for schools serving children who live in poverty, keeping the original promise of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to children with special needs, and investing in 25,000 community schools that meet the social and emotional needs of children, and which serve as neighborhood hubs, would be transformational. So too would the plan’s investment in school infrastructure, which would ensure that students and teachers are not forced to endure lead in their drinking water, buckling floors, or other unsafe conditions in school that hurt teaching and learning. Warren’s plans are about supporting students from birth to college and career, and on supporting teachers throughout their careers. And when it comes to teachers—she couples the need to attract and retain and diversify members of our profession with a plan to invest in historically black colleges and universities, and a plan to confront student loan debt.

Her plan puts checks and balances in place to combat the effort by corporate interests to privatize and monetize our public schools. And it stops charter schools from having a competitive advantage over public schools by ensuring the transparency and accountability we have talked about for years. Written by a teacher for all students and all educators, it is a plan focused on equity and excellence that would truly fulfill the promise and potential of public education as the foundation of our democracy and the great equalizer of opportunity in our nation. And it would be pushed forward every day by having, as she promised, a teacher at the helm of the Department of Education.

Unrigging the Economy

Both Sanders and Warren have called out the rigging of the rules of our economy in favor of the rich. That’s why so many people support Sanders for his blunt talk about millionaires and billionaires and likely why he is the current front-runner. I’ve watched Warren not just talk about the decimation of the middle class and the rigging of our economy by the rich but actually take action to unrig the rules and help people get ahead.

Warren has spent nearly her entire career focused on why working- and middle-class Americans continue to fall further and further behind while the rich just keep getting richer—and what to do about it. It’s not just about income inequality, it’s about affordability and working families being squeezed every which way. It’s about confronting the structural racism that has led to predatory and discriminatory practices targeting communities of color and shutting them out of the middle class and the American dream.

After decades of the wealthy and well-connected using their power and influence to rig the rules so they benefit at the expense of everyone else, and as they’ve gone after unions and any kind of power and voice working people have in our economy and democracy—we’ve reached a breaking point. Wages aren’t keeping up with the basic costs of living and raising a family. Americans are buried under a mountain of student debt and being crushed by healthcare, child care and housing costs. The notion that after a lifetime of hard work a person can retire with dignity is evaporating as more and more people retire into poverty. Communities have been decimated by deindustrialization and the whims of the markets. And under Donald Trump, the rich have just gotten richer at everyone else’s expense.

When the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression struck our nation and ravaged our economy and peoples’ lives, Elizabeth Warren got the opportunity to change this. And she sprang into action. She understood that the crisis was not caused by folks just trying to achieve the American dream but by unregulated, unrestrained Wall Street banks that preyed on Americans and whose greed created a house of cards that crashed our economy and devastated peoples’ lives. And while the banks got bailed out, Americans lost their jobs, their homes, their savings, and their hopes and dreams.

She fought for Wall Street reforms that would help prevent the big banks from ever creating this kind of crisis ever again—and she went a step further to provide direct relief for Americans scammed by Wall Street and protections for consumers so they can’t be preyed upon.

She created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau through the hard work of not only making the case for it every day in public and building a diverse coalition to create public demand but also by building support in the Obama administration, in Congress and even some in the banking community. There’s a reason the economically powerful in the Republican Party and on Wall Street were so dead set against her becoming head of the CFPB. They knew how effective she would be at reining in the risky and predatory practices of Wall Street. She may never have been able to lead her creation, but the CFPB has been an effective advocate for consumers, even as Trump has tried to kill it, and has provided $12.4 billion in relief to 31 million Americans. Just imagine what Warren can achieve with the full economy to solve our affordability crisis and increase the power of working- and middle-class Americans. Warren is a capitalist, but she is someone who understands the dangers of untamed capitalism and the need for the kind of checks and balances on Wall Street and big corporations that prioritize profits above all else. And that is why she has been such a big supporter of unions as the vehicle for working people to have a voice on the job, power in our democracy, and the ability to bargain with employers for the wages and benefits we need to support ourselves and our families.

Confronting Our Student Debt Crisis and Making College Affordable

When it comes to America’s affordability crisis, the $1.6 trillion albatross of student debt is one of the biggest crises we face. Sen. Warren has been a leader in putting this crisis on the map—holding accountable the loan companies and people like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos who continues to prioritize loan servicers over loan borrowers.

When Sen. Warren talks about what gave her a shot at the American dream, she gives a lot of credit to the $50-a-semester commuter college she attended. This fight is personal to her, and that’s evident in her plan to cancel student loan debt for more than 95 percent of the nearly 42 million Americans who carry this debt. Warren’s plan would release Americans from their debt sentence so they can live their lives, care for their families and have a fair shot at the American dream. Not only would her plan wipe out student debt for most Americans, it would do so automatically and immediately, so people wouldn’t have to worry about being approved or having to deal with confusing paperwork. It would bolster the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which has been completely sabotaged by President Trump, Betsy DeVos and big student loan companies like Navient. Today, 41 states spend less on public higher education than they did before the recession: Warren’s plan would reverse that and provide universal tuition-free education at public two- and four-year colleges and technical schools, and ban for-profit colleges from receiving federal aid.

Earlier this year, Warren pressed DeVos to collect the $22.3 million that student loan servicer Navient Corp. owes the U.S. Department of Education, and she has acted to hold DeVos accountable from day one. Warren grilled DeVos during her confirmation hearing about her lack of experience on public education and her ability to manage the Department of Education’s student loan portfolio, especially given her family’s connections to for-profit colleges and student loan companies. Warren has called out DeVos for failing to support defrauded students and tearing up protections like the borrower defense rule. She’s fought to lower interest rates, refinance loans and to cancel loans for 80,000 students who were cheated by Corinthian Colleges. She’s been my go-to expert when I’ve needed advice on student debt issues.

Besides having the policy know-how and the ability to get things done, being an effective leader also means being an effective listener. Here again, I’ve watched Warren be thoughtful, listen to people, ask the tough questions, and adjust her thinking based on evidence, experts and people’s lived experiences. I’ve been in those meetings where she has asked tough questions. She is guided not by ideology but by what works.

Expanding and Improving Healthcare for Families

After Warren came out with her initial Medicare for All plan, she really took to heart the concerns of many Americans who were nervous about a sudden switch away from their private insurance as well as those of us who believe Medicare for All should be a floor, not a ceiling. And she retooled her proposal to build in a transition phase to actually make sure Medicare for All works and that the American people felt comfortable before moving forward. It’s unfortunate that she took a lot of hits for this thoughtful approach, but I want a president who listens and responds to people and builds trust.

And while it’s no longer on people’s radar, the fight a few years ago in Massachusetts over the charter school cap again demonstrated Warren’s thoughtful approach and strong leadership. This was a huge moment when billionaires were using parents as a front to open the floodgates and have an open-ended number of charters in Massachusetts without accountability and transparency. They were trying to replicate what DeVos pushed in Michigan. These wealthy interests were overpromising the public as a way to siphon off resources from public schools. Sen. Warren didn’t want to weigh in until she understood the stakes and what was really happening. She asked tough questions, and she listened to the concerns of educators and parents. She wanted to do whatever would help all kids succeed. And when she did weigh in and actively opposed open-ended charters in Massachusetts, it turned the tide. People saw her as fighting for the best interests of kids and families, and together we exposed the real motives behind the other side. That fight was a real turning point in shifting the narrative in favor of investing in the public schools that 90 percent of America’s children attend.

An American for Everyone

Elizabeth Warren believes in the dignity and worth of every human. She doesn’t pit people against one another, she doesn’t foment hatred and bigotry, she doesn’t blame “the other.” Warren believes that we are best when we live up to our ideals of justice for all and our nation’s motto: out of many, one. That’s why she is a fierce advocate for “Dreamers” and ensuring they have a place in our nation and can achieve their dreams. That’s why on nearly every issue—from education to housing to jobs to our climate—she has a specific focus on helping communities often left out and left behind. She will truly be a president for all Americans.

For these reasons and more, I believe Elizabeth Warren is the candidate we need to defeat Donald Trump and once again achieve big things in America.

As the Boston Globe declared this week: “One candidate stands out as a leader with the qualifications, the track record, and the tenacity to defend the principles of democracy, bring fairness to an economy that is excluding too many Americans, and advance a progressive agenda,” and that person is Elizabeth Warren.

That’s why I am supporting Elizabeth Warren and voting to put a teacher in the White House. Warren is the fearless, thoughtful leader we need to enact real change to improve peoples’ lives and create a better future for all.

I will end where I started: We confront an existential crisis for our democracy and our very way of life. And I will, like so many others, support the person the Democrats ultimately nominate. I will work harder than I ever have, as I know our union will, to change the direction of our country and defeat Donald Trump.

At the same time in this moment, we can and must ensure that hope wins over despair, compassion over cruelty, fairness over inequality, and that justice and freedom become a lived experience for all. Elizabeth Warren is the candidate who can bring us together and bring out the best in America.