Sen. Harris reads to fourth-graders
By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) spent an afternoon reading a book to and answering questions from fourth graders May 6 at Miller Elementary School, 4824 Lois.
“That’s why I came here today, so that I could see you guys for myself, because I’m so inspired by all of the good work that you are doing,” she said. “A big part of the issues that I think about are about you guys. I think about your education, your hopes and dreams, all the things you want to do when you grow up — and next week. Those are my priorities.”
Her visit aligns with the fourth grade curriculum which includes American government.
Harris read “Each Kindness” by Jacqueline Woodson and gifted the school the Maya Angelou book “Phenomenally Me” during her visit.
Following the reading, she asked the students what they learned from the story and then answered questions about what they think is important.
“To be kind to everyone,” one student replied, and “to treat people how you want to be treated,” another student answered.
Harris visited Miller on the first day of National Teacher Appreciation Week where she spoke about leadership, importance of teachers and answered questions from each fourth grade classroom.
The first question asked was, “If you could change any law what would it be and why?”
“I would change the laws around how we fund school districts,” she said. “I want to make sure that every child in our country has an equal amount of pens, papers, crayons, teachers, supplies, resources, and I want to make sure that’s not going to be based on how much money is around them. I want to make sure that it’s based on what’s equal and fair for all of our children.”
A second question asked by a student was, “What motived you to run for president?”
“Part of what motived me was you guys. Really,” Harris said. “I want to make sure that you guys can grow up in a place, country and world where you will be safe, have clean water to drink, clean air to breathe. Also, to make sure that you grow up in a country where you know you can do anything you want and the fact that you are a boy or a girl will not decide what you can do. The fact of who you may pray to is not going to determine how you will be treated.”
The third question was, “If you become president how will you make the United States a better place?”
“Part of making it a better place is making sure the president is kind, just like the book,” Harris said. “We make sure that leaders know and that we always remember that a sign of a real leader is that you are kind to everybody and we know there is a strength in that. I think we’ll make it a better place by making sure everyone feels welcomed, everyone feels equal and everyone has a sense of optimism.”
She added, “I want to make the world a better place in terms of making sure that we admire people who are smart, kind, thoughtful and empathic. Those are the kinds of things I think about in what we need to do to make the world and our country a better place.”
Harris ended her visit by saying that she wanted to pay teachers more and that if the students looked closely they could see their teachers are wearing capes like superheroes.
“They’re really smart and do all kinds of creative things and when you go to the classroom every day you’re like, ‘What’s going to happen today? What am I going to learn today? I went home yesterday knowing something and I today I’m going to know even more things and be even smarter.’ That’s what teachers do,” she said. “It’s really a gift they give us and part of how I’m going to make education better is to make sure we pay teachers more.”
Harris spoke at the NAACP 64th annual Fight for Freedom Fund dinner May 5 at Cobo Center and participated in a town hall sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers at Marcus Garvey Academy in Detroit the following day.
During the town hall, she answered questions from teachers and heard about the issues impacting their lives, teaching careers and emphasized the importance of teacher salary increases.
Harris also said that her proposals for education would give the average teacher a $13,500 raise by the end of her first term if elected president.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)