U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, at an event held Sunday on the campus of Detroit’s Cass Tech.
The congresswoman has gained recognition as a member of “The Squad,” a group of left-leaning first-term progressives that also includes Reps. Alexandria Octavio-Cortez, New York; Ilhan Omar, Minnesota; and Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts. Octavio-Cortez and Omar had previously endorsed Sanders.
She also earned notoriety by employing profanity when publicly proclaiming her intention to impeach President Donald Trump on the same day she was sworn in.
“We live in a district where billionaires get hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks, while our schools close and while the ones that stay open had their water turned off because it was unsafe to drink, including right here at Cass Tech,” Tlaib said, according to multiple news sources.
“I want you to let that just sink in for a moment. This building we are at, right here, just a couple blocks away from Little Caesars Arena, whose billionaire owners received $324 million in tax breaks in exchange for broken promises of jobs and housing. They took millions away from our schools.”
The rally also featured Detroit/Hamtramck rock musician and one-time Cass Tech student Jack White, who performed numbers by his former band The White Stripes such as “Seven Nation Army” and “Icky Thump” as well as the Bob Dylan song “License to Kill.”
“What Rashida has been doing in less than one year is become a national figure, not just in standing up against the vulgarity and ugliness of Donald Trump, but she has taken on in a very forceful way, the greed and corruption of the economic establishment and stood up to the political establishment as well,” Sanders said.
“Rashida took me around her district here in Detroit, and I met with beautiful young people who are going to schools in which they don’t have adequate textbooks,” Sanders said. “They are going to schools where their teachers are forced to work two or three jobs just to make a living. I don’t think it is too much to ask that in the wealthiest country in the history of the world we pay our teachers a living salary and that we provide the best quality education in the world for our kids.”
Using data compiled by EdBuild, a nonprofit focused on school funding based in New York City, National Public Radio reported in April 2018 that Michigan ranks first in the nation for teacher salaries when adjusted for cost of living. “[A]fter adjusting for regional cost differences, Michigan tops the list with an average salary of $71,773,” NPR reporter Cory Turner wrote.
“In 2016-17, Michigan school districts spent more than $100,000 on total compensation for each full-time teacher, more than they spent five years earlier,” wrote the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Education Director Ben DeGrow in 2018.
The Detroit Free Press reported in June that Motor City teachers with the most seniority were scheduled for a 4.3 percent pay raise this fall. The paper also noted:
- The maximum salary in Detroit schools increased to $73,000 from $65,265
- Starting salary for teachers with a bachelor's degree increased to $38,500 from the current $35,700
- A $1,500 bonus was paid to all teachers
- A 3 percent pay raise was given to staffers other than teachers including ed techs, attendant agents, substitutes, special instructors and academic interventionist