COMMERCE CITY — Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, at a rally at Adams City High School, called for an investment in preschool, teacher training and career and technical classes in the nation’s high schools.
Clinton, in her first campaign stop in Colorado since officially becoming the Democratic nominee, said investing in public education — especially early childhood education— is a critical piece to making the United State’s economy stronger and more fair.
“We’ve got to make this economy work for everyone, not just those at the top,” she said.
Wednesday’s rally was well attended by Colorado teachers and students, including a large delegation of teachers from the nearby Adams 12 school district. Many of the teachers wore “Educators for Hillary” T-shirts. The nation’s two largest teachers unions have endorsed Clinton.
While Clinton’s speech was largely focused on the economy, she often pivoted to education issues.
“We want our kids to be ready for the jobs of the future,” she said. Clinton added that too many students don’t have access to high-speed Internet to do homework. “We’re leaving those kids behind. That’s wrong.”
Part of Clinton’s jobs proposal is expanding broadband to more rural areas.
One of the largest applause lines she received during her speech: “I love teachers!”
Here’s what some of the Colorado teachers and students had to say before Clinton took the stage:
Brook Draper, a special education teacher at Federal Heights Elementary in Adams County, on why this election matters to some of her students:
“I have a fourth-grade student who asked me who I’m voting for in the election. I told him I hadn’t made up my mind yet, because I don’t want to discuss politics in school. He asked me, ‘What am I going to do if my parents are kicked out of the country? Who am I going to stay with?’ I tried not to cry.”
Austin Gutierrez, a recent graduate from Adams City High School and member of the school’s choir that sung the national anthem, on what he’d like Clinton to prioritize:
“The arts. They need more funding. Every school I’ve been to, it seems the arts are underfunded. That’s something I’d push for. The arts are a form of interpreting yourself. Football players do that on the field. We do it on the stage.”
Jen Nerren, a special education teacher at Centennial Elementary in Broomfield, on supporting Clinton after supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primary:
“If the Democrats ran a cardboard box, I’d vote for it.”
Anne Nemeth, a teacher at Boolman Technical Education Center in Thornton, on why she’ll never vote for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump:
“I have Muslim students. I have students who crossed the border. If Trump were here, he’d want them kicked out. They deserve a better life. They deserve to be in this country.”
Karen Padilla, an Adams City High School senior who will vote in her first election this fall, on why Clinton’s prospect of becoming the first woman president isn’t important to her:
“I was gonna vote for Bernie. My vote is still for him. I guess [Clinton] is the second best option. … What if Trump were a woman? I wouldn’t vote for him then because his politics are still stupid.”
Dave Lockley, a Thornton Middle School social studies teacher, on how he plans to put the election into context for his eighth-grade students:
“It’s really exciting for my students. We get to see a contested election, a polarized election. We have two very opposite candidates. The whole country is having a debate for the first time in a long time. It boils down to: Are we a nation of inclusion or exclusion?”
Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association, on how she thinks Clinton’s Department of Education will roll out the nation’s new federal education law:
“Hillary Clinton has said repeatedly that she wants teachers at the table.”