Fireside Chat with Rep.-elect Jamaal Bowman

“As an educator and principal for two decades, I have witnessed firsthand how the denial of basic resources corrodes children’s curiosity, self-worth, intelligence and dignity,” said U.S. Rep.-elect Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) during an AFSA virtual fireside chat held in mid-December. “The federal government must stop shirking its responsibilities to our students and communities, and finally fulfill its promises on public education.”

AFSA President Ernest Logan and Secretary-Treasurer Lauran Waters-Cherry hosted the event for members from across the country who were extremely excited to sit down with a school principal elected to the House of Representatives.

"This is a first," said Logan. "For the first time in history, a member of the American Federation of School Administrators has been elected to Congress," as Logan presented Bowman with an unprecedented, honorary, lifetime AFSA membership.

Bowman explained how his experience as an educator will shape what he will bring to the table in the Capitol. "I have seen firsthand the incredible potential that children have, but also how glaringly underfunded and underserved public education is,"  said Bowman. "I see the range of consequences that bad federal policy has on communities, and I am devoted to fighting for change."

Bowman brings to Congress a varied and intimate knowledge of what kids in public schools go through, from mental trauma to food and housing insecurity. His action on public schools will be guided by firsthand experience, and not abstract concepts or theory.

Bowman repeatedly called for a “Green New Deal for public schools,” sweeping reform and funding on the federal level to save our public schools. He highlighted the lack of basic, modern infrastructure in many American public schools, as well as the need to grapple with the ways the system fails minority and low-income communities.

In Congress, Bowman promises to promote labor organizing on all education levels and to protect workers' right to form a union. He not only supports unions, but thinks they are essential to creating a future that works for everyone.

He made clear his desire for greater value to be placed on educators, and for greater involvement of school administrators and teachers in forming federal policy. Above all, he emphasized the need to make public education a priority for our federal government. 

Bowman expressed his gratitude to President Logan for his work, and asked AFSA members to continue working together to build a system that works for the communities they serve. 

Bowman was a former middle school principal at Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a school he helped create in New York City, and former member of the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators (CSA), AFSA Local 1. He was elected to represent New York’s 16th congressional district  with 87% of the vote.

Bowman was born and raised in New York City. He spent his early years in public housing and later in rent-controlled apartments. He didn’t have much growing up, but his mother provided him all that he needed: love, a stable family and a sense of community.

To watch the full chat, click here.