Arizona Teacher Union VP Says Biden Will Fix DeVos’ Education Mess

Marisol Garcia standing with Arizona signpost in front of desert landscape

Arizona middle school teacher Marisol Garcia said she often assigned students to watch the national political conventions. But this year, she did more than watch, announcing the state’s votes at the Democratic National Convention. (Photo courtesy Marisol Garcia)

By Jessica Swarner

August 24, 2020

“Nobody in the Trump administration has done anything for public schools.” 

Marisol Garcia is a teachers’ union leader, former middle school teacher, and now a representative for the state of Arizona–for the Democratic National Convention (DNC), at least. 

Garcia recorded a 30-second speech in front of South Mountain, which aired Tuesday night as part of the DNC’s roll call of U.S. states and territories. 

“I wore what I wear almost everyday, which is a red Red for Ed shirt, and I said my name appropriately, and I proudly said I was a Latina, and I talked about being a mother and a union leader, all things that are who I am,” she told The Copper Courier. “I think teachers needed somebody to say that. They needed to see somebody talk like they do, and most importantly my students saw me.” 

But Garcia’s involvement with the Democratic party didn’t end with the speech. She is now helping to organize nationally with Educators for Biden. 

A Clear Reminder

Garcia said it’s an easy decision on which candidate will be the better choice this fall, both for public education and the country overall. 

“Nobody in the [President Donald] Trump administration has done anything for public schools,” she said. “The very first decision to hire [Secretary of Education] Betsy DeVos … was a clear reminder that not everybody believes in public education.”

Trump received pushback for choosing DeVos to run education, seeing as her background is in business and not schools. Biden, on the other hand, has promised to build a “teacher-oriented” Department of Education. 

Garcia said Biden being elected would be exciting because his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, is a teacher and National Education Association (NEA) member

“Having an NEA member at the White House who is listening to policies being brought forward … I mean, that’s a win,” Garcia said. 

RELATED: Dozens of Arizona Teachers Quit While Schools Attempt to Reopen Classrooms

DeVos has used her platform largely to advocate for school choice, a movement that supports using public funds to allow children to attend alternatives to public schools.  

Critics of this philosophy argue it undermines the public school system by pulling money away from low-performing schools to move kids elsewhere instead of working to improve them. 

Garcia said DeVos’ focus on private education has frustrated her. 

“She has never been interested in visiting students of color or visiting students in public schools,” Garcia said. “She is very easygoing to charter schools, very quick to go to private schools, and that’s not OK.” 

Garcia also criticized DeVos’ support of arming teachers with guns and rollback of protections for transgender students. 

“There’s a lot that we need to do once Betsy’s gone,” Garcia said, “and we’re hoping to help her pack pretty soon.” 

Moving Forward

Garcia said that to her, electing Biden is about more than education. It’s about fighting racism. 

“We need some healing in this country,” she said. “I have seen nothing from this administration that makes me feel that I’m at all appreciated or welcomed in this country, even though my family is from these lands.” 

Garcia said around the time when Trump was elected, her son asked her why certain people in the country hated people like him. 

“I know that those are not conversations that are going to come with Vice President Biden or Kamala Harris on the ticket or in the White House,” Garcia said. 

RELATED: Growing Number Arizona Republicans Backing Biden Due to Trump’s Fiscal Irresponsibility, Disrespectful Attitude

Biden’s platform includes a racial equity plan, in which he promises to address racial gaps in wealth and opportunity. 

He also mentions race in his education plan, which he says “invests in all children from birth, so that regardless of their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability, they are prepared to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.” 

Trump’s 2020 agenda does not mention race, and his education goals are to “provide school choice to every child in America” and “teach American exceptionalism.”

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  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.



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