Subject: Inside AFT--June 26
June 26, 2015
Love wins in the Supreme CourtFrom 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."
Court's decision on Affordable Care Act is big victoryThe 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.
Coalition tells Senate to act now on ESEAAn 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 centersHope 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."
Anti-immigration lawsuit is hurting childrenMillions 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.
- Read more about the advocates' case for immigration reform.
- Read a fact sheet about the negative impact of the lawsuit.
School leaders' departures provide new opportunitiesThe 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."
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.
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.
- One reason for our growing economic inequality is the decline of workers' bargaining power. In the Washington Post, Jared Bernstein outlines a number of ways policymakers could strengthen collective bargaining.
- 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
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