It’s typical for educators to lead the way, philanthropist Tom Steyer told attendees at the CFT Convention. As the son and grandson of teachers, Steyer founded NextGen Climate, a non-profit that acts politically to prevent climate disaster.

CFT President Joshua Pechthalt introduced Steyer, saying he’s pledged to give at least half of his money to causes such as environmental justice and voting rights. Steyer also supports public schools and spoke to the challenges facing them.

“When the Secretary of Education does not support or even understand public education, it’s almost as if the Secretary of the Environment wanted to gut the Clean Air Act or the Secretary of Energy wanted to dismantle that department,” Steyer said, referring to Betsy DeVos, Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry, respectively. “We need better wages and benefits, and the right to organize, and we are never going to get them from a president who’s made a career of cheating employees and a party that wants to gut labor.”

California needs to continue to lead by standing up for immigrants rights, against the rollback of environmental protections, and for public education. Steyer added that he’s working on campuses around the country with NextGen, involving community partners and unions. He’s also on a committee with AFT President Randi Weingarten and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and they’re working to refute what Steyer calls “a few big lies” that Republicans keep repeating.