Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fwd: Inside AFT--July 24

Subject: Inside AFT--July 24


July 24, 2015

Smiling kids

Senate passes bipartisan overhaul of NCLB

After multiple hearings, a long markup and a week of floor debate, bipartisanship held firm and the U.S. Senate on July 16 resoundingly approved a bill that could help vanquish the No Child Left Behind Act and its ensuing waivers. By a vote of 81-17, senators approved the Every Child Achieves Act, a bill to replace NCLB and restore the law to the historic mission set out by President Lyndon Johnson and Congress in 1965, when the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act was enacted. The Senate bill offers "a fundamental and positive change of direction for public education," AFT President Randi Weingarten said. "The soul of the Senate bill maintains the commitment to target funds to public schools educating large populations of disadvantaged students and overhauls No Child Left Behind by resetting accountability by eliminating the test-and-punish policies that have narrowed the curriculum but not the achievement gap." The AFT and other groups sent a letter July 22 urging Congress to quickly reconcile the Senate version with one passed earlier by the House and come up with a final bill.

Maria Dominguez

White House honors AFT teacher helped by DACA

AFT member Maria Dominguez is an immigration success story. What's more, she's a perfect example of why the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which President Obama announced three years ago, has been such an important step in helping hardworking undocumented immigrants pursue the American dream. Dominguez, who is now a first-grade bilingual teacher and an Education Austin activist, is one of nine teachers and community role models who was recognized on July 24 at the White House as a Champion of Change. Beyond her work as an educator, teaching many students who are themselves undocumented, Dominguez has volunteered with Education Austin and other community organizations on citizenship drives, educational forums and clinics to help others through the DACA and citizenship process. "I continue to struggle to advocate for millions of others who are being kept in the shadows by our broken immigration system," she says.

Six steps to debt-free college

The number of debt-free college plans beginning to circulate can be confusing, but the core message is simple: Higher education should be accessible to everyone, regardless of income and without the cost of crippling debt. The "Debt-Free College Checklist"—unveiled July 16 by the AFT, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Demos—clarifies that goal, declaring that any "debt-free college" proposal should be able to answer "yes!" to each of six questions on the checklist. "We have to mitigate the debt that's already due," said AFT President Randi Weingarten at a Debt-Free Checklist briefing. "Why would we incur additional debt? It is paradoxical, and I would argue hypocritical, to say that college is so important, but make it increasingly out of reach for all but those who are the wealthiest."

Randi Weingarten and organizing committee

Adjuncts at Pennsylvania college vote to unionize

Adjunct faculty at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania just turned up the volume on the conversation about job security, fair pay and other resources they need to effectively reach their students. In a 294-64 vote finalized on July 14, they chose to join the AFT. Their full-time faculty colleagues have been affiliated with the AFT for more than 40 years. The new local, Community College of Allegheny County Adjuncts United, will begin with a survey about adjunct priorities, but some are already clear in the testimonials circulated by CCAC faculty during the voting process. Reflecting on why she wants to join the union, math adjunct Natalie Ahwesh says, "As an adjunct, I teach the same classes as full-time professors, but receive far less pay. I keep this job because I love my students, but they are the ones who suffer because I must teach at four different schools just to make ends meet."

AFT urges IRS to close loophole benefiting hedge funds

The AFT, the AFL-CIO and CREDO Action delivered nearly 100,000 public comments on July 23 to the Internal Revenue Service, supporting an IRS effort to close a loophole that allows hedge funds and other wealthy investors to save hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. Currently, the tax code enables hedge fund managers and other wealthy individuals to convert income into assets, which allows them to pay a lower tax rate. One way this is accomplished is by setting up a reinsurance company in a foreign jurisdiction with a favorable corporate tax regime—basically sheltering income from U.S. taxation. The IRS's proposed regulations would outlaw this. The IRS permits investors' assets, which appreciate in value over time, to be taxed at a lower rate than income from wage earners. "This treatment is exactly backward: Wage earners are the backbone of our economy. Flattening that differentiated treatment should be among the highest priorities for tax reform," AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a letter to the IRS.

Sad girl

AFT members train in how to help grieving kids

The desire to help students grapple with strong emotions as they face the death of a close family member, friend or teacher is something every school employee has faced. Now AFT members have begun a process of training their colleagues in research-based strategies to help ease the effects of grief so that children can continue to grow and learn. With guidance from the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, more than a dozen members from around the country gathered in Washington, D.C., for two days before this month's TEACH conference to train as trainers, using as their curriculum, a multimedia resource developed specifically for school personnel. By exploring strategies and tools during the pre-TEACH seminar, members geared up to train at least 25 employees in their schools or districts on how to interact with individual children and how to promote the creation of grief-sensitive schools.

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Also worth reading

  • In her latest column appearing the New York Times, AFT President Randi Weingarten recaps the highlights from the recent TEACH conference, and especially the importance and power of educators' collective voices.
  • A recent installment in National Public Radio's series on 50 great teachers features AFT and Chicago Teachers Union member Mathias Schergen, better known as "Mr. Spider."
  • In a blog post on Share My Lesson, AFT member Amber Chandler, a middle school teacher in Hamburg, N.Y., offers "Five Tips for Elevating Your Teacher Voice." 

Where and when

  • AFT President Randi Weingarten will be in Ottawa, Canada, attending Education International's 7th World Congress on July 25. From July 27-30, she will attend the AFL-CIO executive committee and council meetings in Washington, D.C.
  • AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson will be in Ottawa, Canada, attending Education International's 7th World Congress on July 25. On July 29-30, she will attend the AFL-CIO executive council committee and council meetings in Washington, D.C.
  • AFT Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker will be in Ottawa, Canada, attending Education International's 7th World Congress on July 25. On July 26, she will attend a memorial service in Norwalk, Conn., for Ronald Thorpe, president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, who died July 1. On July 30, Ricker will speak at the Northwest Leadership Forum sponsored by the AFT LEAD Program, AFT-Oregon, AFT Washington, the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, and the Oregon School Employees Association, in Vancouver, Wash.

Inside AFT, an electronic newsletter for leaders and activists, is prepared by the AFT communications department. Contributors and sources for this week's edition include Mike Rose, Cesar Moreno Perez, Virginia Myers, AFT media affairs, Annette Licitra, Tear Jones Murphy, Catherine Mason and Mary Kaniewski. Dan Gursky, editor; Jane Feller, copy editor.
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Randi Weingarten, President
Lorretta Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer | Mary Cathryn Ricker, Executive Vice President
© American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. All rights reserved.
Photographs and illustrations, as well as text, cannot be used without permission from the AFT.
Contact Us | 555 New Jersey Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20001

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fwd: Inside AFT--June 26

Subject: Inside AFT--June 26


June 26, 2015

Supreme Court after the decision

Love wins in the Supreme Court

From Loving to Windsor to today, love has won, AFT President Randi Weingarten said following the Supreme Court's June 26 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. "As people start seeing one another's real aspirations and dreams for all our families and our communities, as well as for ourselves, we see that the arc of history does bend toward justice. And while this is a day of celebration, there is more work to do in our fight for full equality. As a gay woman and union leader, I know that I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for my union—an ally in the struggle for rights and a shield from unfair discrimination in the workplace."

Rallying for the Affordable Care Act

Court's decision on Affordable Care Act is big victory

The U.S. Supreme Court got it right on healthcare with its June 25 decision in King v. Burwell, AFT President Randi Weingarten says. "This is a victory for working families," she says. "Ask the nurse who sees patients every day who are getting healthy thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Ask the adjunct professor or the school support-staff worker who now have coverage thanks to the law. The Affordable Care Act is working. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 16 million Americans who previously had no coverage now have access to affordable, quality healthcare. Out-of-control healthcare inflation is beginning to be tamed. A new focus on quality and outcomes is helping all patients get better care. And preventive care and access to lifesaving treatment and medication have meant more years of healthy life for countless Americans.

Weingarten at the Press Club

Coalition tells Senate to act now on ESEA

An unprecedented coalition of 10 national education groups gathered at Washington, D.C.'s National Press Club on June 23 to tell the U.S. Senate to bring a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to the floor for a vote. A day later, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell officially scheduled the bill for a July 7 floor debate. Congressional momentum has stalled in the two months since the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously approved its reauthorization bill, known as the Every Child Achieves Act. "The Senate bill is a much-needed reset in federal education policy and creates the oxygen that schools need to actually teach children, not teach to tests," AFT President Randi Weingarten said. "What we have now—a fixation on high-stakes testing thanks to No Child Left Behind and exacerbated by Race to the Top—isn't working for kids, parents, communities or teachers."

Building a future at New York early childhood centers

Hope is building among employees at early childhood centers operated by Birch Family Services in New York City now that the Manhattan Early Childhood Center has become the latest in a growing number of Birch sites to cast a strong "union, yes" vote. By a ratio of nearly 4-to-1, employees at the Manhattan Early Childhood Center voted to be represented by the AFT-affiliated United Federation of Teachers. The unit, encompassing 76 employees, is the fifth location of the eight New York City sites operated by Birch to vote for the union. Joining the union means "allowing us to voice an opinion on the direction that Birch is going" and bringing a little transparency into the process, says Marjorie Greene, a registered nurse at the Manhattan center. Many of the rules and changes from Birch's central administration have been "told to us at the last minute. We weren't allowed an opinion on whether we agreed—it was just a done deal. This is just a matter of respect."

DACA students

Anti-immigration lawsuit is hurting children

Millions of children who are U.S. citizens and have immigrant parents are paying the heaviest price for the failures of our immigration policies, most recently the lawsuit now blocking President Obama's immigration relief programs, children's advocates and immigration scholars said in a June 23 press briefing. The court case, driven by conservative, anti-immigrant politicians in 26 states, has threatened the academic and social development of these young citizens. Anxieties and other issues caused by the threat of deportation, family separation and economic insecurity could be resolved if the temporary relief programs were allowed to proceed, according to recent studies. "Teachers throughout the country understand and have seen what happens to children who are so fearful because they are worried that a parent will not be home when they arrive home," AFT President Randi Weingarten said during the briefing.

School leaders' departures provide new opportunities

The resignation of Cami Anderson, the state district superintendent for the Newark (N.J.) Public Schools, provides an opportunity to undo the many mistakes made under her leadership, AFT President Randi Weingarten says. "Every child deserves a high-quality public education at a great neighborhood school, and we must ensure such an education is available to all," Weingarten says. "Unfortunately, and seemingly at every turn, Cami Anderson undercut that aspiration in Newark—ignoring the community, the school board, parents, students, and educators." Across the country in Dallas, the resignation of Superintendent Mike Miles also gives the district and the community the opportunity to move forward in a more collaborative way. "Teachers will remember him as the superintendent who instigated unfair evaluations and displayed a lack of respect for their input, leading to a mass exodus of teachers," says Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro, who is an AFT vice president. "True re form and working toward school improvement mean real collaboration with teachers and other school employees, who are the best starting point for knowing what works best in the classroom."

TEACH bannerCheck out details of this year's TEACH conference

Approximately 2,000 educators are expected to attend the AFT's biennial TEACH conference, which is set for July 13-15 in Washington, D.C. This year's theme of "Your Voice Matters" will be woven through the various sessions, which will focus on the future of education and of teaching as a profession; educators who, with their unions, have led efforts to improve their schools and communities; a new, fair and balanced accountability system; and educational justice reform. All of the plenary sessions will be live-streamed. AFT President Randi Weingarten will deliver the keynote address at the opening plenary on July 13.

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Also worth reading

  • The AFT is praising a federal court's decision upholding a gainful employment rule, which gives the U.S. Department of Education another tool to crack down on predatory actors more concerned about making a buck than providing the high-quality education students deserve and pay for.
  • In a long piece set to appear in the summer issue of the American Prospect, "When Charters Go Union," Rachel M. Cohen looks at ever-changing relationship between unions and charter schools.

Where and when

  • AFT President Randi Weingarten will attend the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colo., on June 29-30. While there, she will address an AFT-sponsored roundtable on the school-to-prison pipeline; give introductory remarks at a screening of "The Hunting Ground," a documentary about rape on college campuses; and participate in a panel discussion on community investment. On July 1, Weingarten will host a telephone town hall discussion on the 2016 presidential election. On July 3, she will bring greetings to the National Education Association's Representative Assembly in Orlando, Fla.
  • AFT Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker will attend the Race and the Labor Movement Town Hall Meeting, sponsored by the AFL-CIO and the D.C. chapter of the NAACP, on June 29 in Washington, D.C. On June 30, she will address the AFT English Language Learners Educators Cadre in Washington, D.C. On July 2, Ricker will attend community partner events in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area. On July 9, she will be a panelist at the School Superintendents Association's annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C. On July 10, Ricker will speak to members attending the AFT's Patients Before Profits state-based training.

Note: Inside AFT will take off next Friday because of the July Fourth holiday. Watch for daily updates from TEACH the following week.

Inside AFT, an electronic newsletter for leaders and activists, is prepared by the AFT communications department. Contributors and sources for this week's edition include AFT media affairs, Mike Rose, America's Voice Education Fund, Tear Jones Murphy and Mary Kaniewski. Dan Gursky, editor; Jane Feller, copy editor.
Randi Weingarten, President
Lorretta Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer | Mary Cathryn Ricker, Executive Vice President
© American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. All rights reserved.
Photographs and illustrations, as well as text, cannot be used without permission from the AFT.
Contact Us | 555 New Jersey Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20001

Fwd: Your voices were heard

Subject: Your voices were heard

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Dear Kathleen,

We began the state legislative session in January with Gov. Cuomo attacking teachers and public education. Yesterday evening, the state Legislature ended its session without passing the toxic proposals that the governor had pushed.

There is no education tax credit that would have rewarded billionaires and there is no increase in the state cap on the number of charter schools. Governor Cuomo's proposal would have paved the way for 250 more charters in New York City. The final deal limits that number to 50 charters: 24 that New York City already had the green light to open; 22 from city charter schools that closed and can now be reused; and four reassigned from upstate.

In addition, the State Education Department will now be required to release test questions and provide test results sooner to parents and teachers. A content review committee — including classroom teachers and experienced educators — will review questions before they are included in any test to make sure they are grade-level appropriate. Confidentiality agreements on revealing test questions will be scaled back. And the Legislature's final deal will also cut down the time our students spend taking standardized tests by reducing the field testing of potential test questions.

I want to thank all of you who joined the fight on behalf of our students and schools through social media and in the streets over the past six months. Your voices were heard. Our allies in the state Assembly stood firm.

The battle to protect our schools and students from those who seek to undermine public education is not over. But for now you should take pride in all that you and your fellow UFT members have accomplished.

As the school year draws to a close, I want to thank you for your dedication and hard work. You have one of the most important, most rewarding, but also most demanding jobs in the world, and you should be proud of all that you do to protect, nurture and educate our city's public schoolchildren.

I wish you a well-deserved, restful and enjoyable summer break.


Michael Mulgrew

Michael Mulgrew

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United Federation of TeachersA Union of Professionals
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