The AFT has always been a solutions-driven union, and our new campaign, launched during TEACH on July 21, proves it once again with a fresh, practical approach to strengthening public education. As AFT President Randi Weingarten pointed out during her keynote speech, the $5 million, yearlong campaign, “Real Solutions for Kids and Communities,” stands up against attacks on public schools and offers real-world solutions to build up, rather than break down, our communities.
Summer is upon us, and parents, children and teachers are winding down from what has been an exhausting and fully operational school year—the first since the devastating pandemic. The long-lasting impact of COVID-19 has affected our students’ and families’ well-being and ignited the politics surrounding public schools. All signs point to the coming school year unfolding with the same sound and fury, and if extremist culture warriors have their way, being even more divisive and stressful.
In AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest New York Times column, she describes what it is exactly that unions do. Though unions are the most popular they have been in decades, anti-union sentiment still thrives in red states and across the nation. “Several years ago, The Atlantic ran a story whose headline made even me, a labor leader, scratch my head: ‘Union Membership: Very Sexy,’” Weingarten writes in the column. “The gist was that higher wages, health benefits and job security—all associated with union membership—boost one’s chances of getting married. Belonging to a union doesn’t actually guarantee happily ever after, but it does help working people have a better life in the here and now.” Click through to read the full column.
Until a vaccine is developed for COVID-19, each community is going to need support in charting a path to safely and responsibly reopen school buildings and other institutions crucial to the well-being and economic vitality of our communities.
Attacks on public education in America by extremists and culture-war peddling politicians have reached new heights (“lows” may be more apt), but they are not new. The difference today is that the attacks are intended not just to undermine public education but to destroy it.
Alabama's public schools have seen such an enormous increase in the number of autistic children in the last two decades that educators are struggling to find ways to train teachers to deal with these students.
In 1991, just three students in Alabama's public schools were diagnosed with autism. During the 2007-08 school year, the number was 2,737, and that number is expected to continue to climb.
The diagnosis of autism has expanded so rapidly over the past two decades that only a small percentage of Alabama schools have programs dedicated to it. And in those that do, the programs sometimes are run by teachers with no formal training in the subject.
Birmingham city schools' enrollment dropped by 868 students this year, and the system will lose more than $5.5 million in state funding next year as a result, new attendance reports show.
School systems submitted their 20-days-after-Labor-Day attendance reports and the state will certify them next week. That official enrollment number - called "average daily membership" - is what the state uses to fund schools. Growing schools receive more state money as a result, but schools with declining enrollment lose funding for teachers, principals, assistant principals, counselors and librarians.
Gov. Bob Riley plans to put $6 million into the proposed education budget next year to fund a pilot program for teacher merit pay in the state's neediest school systems.
The governor said the idea is worth pushing even though a 2007 attempt to get legislative approval for such a program failed.
"There is not another segment of society that doesn't reward its workers for a job well done," Riley said in an interview last week. "I think merit pay works, and I think it's something teachers want."