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AFT CONVENTION: Resolution on school closing, charters required hard work, some compromises

The Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1 (CTU) delegation threw itself into committee discussions, floor strategies and partnerships in order to get some language regarding charter schools, high stakes testing and school closings added to key resolutions at the recent American Federation of Teachers (AFT) convention held in Seattle from July 7th through 11th.

After many meetings and debates, the Chicago delegation succeeding in working with the New York United Federation of Teachers, Local 2 (UFT) to push the AFT to take stronger stands on charter school accountability and school closings — though many delegates from Chicago would have liked the language to have been even stronger.

Generally speaking, the New York delegation represented organizing charters as the best model for handling their role in reshaping unions, despite the fact that according to many reports few charter schools in New York have been organized as is the case in Chicago. This logic is the same touted by the Progressive Caucus of the AFT. The few that have been organized are a part of the UFT local though they have separate contracts negotiated with the help of UFT. The Chicago delegation reflection the mindset that allowing new charters to continue to proliferate while attempting to organize existing charters is an end game in which public schools and the union lose.

At a Wednesday, June 30th, CTU delegation meeting at Manny’s Deli, Chicago convention delegates voted to write a resolution to address overarching concerns held by teachers and school staff in Chicago in light of major attacks on public education.

Convention delegates also discussed the invitation of Bill Gates as a keynote speaker at the AFT convention despite his role in funding the privatization of public schools and increasing his foundation’s role in shaping national educational policy. A small group of CTU convention delegates met on Friday, July 2nd to rework a draft resolution written by Ray Wohl which borrowed sentiments and language of statements put out by the AFT’s Peace and Justice Caucus. Susan Zupan, Zulma Ortiz, Eric Skalinder, Ray Wohl, Lois Jones, Lee White, Drunita Stewart, Jonathan Cohler, Pat Breckinridge and Jen Johnson discussed and reworked the resolution at this meeting. After more editing over the weekend, the CTU resolution draft was approved by CTU leaders and the final draft was sent to the CORE caucus email list Wednesday, July 7th as the vast majority of convention delegates are on that list. (The final draft of the CTU resolution is reproduced below.)

Three thousand copies of the final draft were made in Seattle on Wednesday, July 7th, to be passed out to delegates in committee and at the convention center whenever appropriate. Once in committee meetings on Thursday, July 8th, several CTU delegates attempted to amend existing resolutions to include language from the CTU resolution and get copies of the resolution into the hands of as many delegates from other union locals as possible.

In the Educational Issues Committee, CTU convention delegates Ray Wohl and John Schmidt worked to amend Resolution 8: “Oppose the Unjustified Closure of Urban Neighborhood Schools” by the United Federation of Teachers, Local 2 (UFT) from New York on Thursday, July 8th. CTU convention delegates Adam Heenan and Jen Johnson (this reporter) made sure that around 300 copies of the CTU resolution were distributed to the whole committee while CTU speakers pushed for amendments using language from the CTU resolution.

By the end of the two-hour Educational Issues Committee session, Resolution 5: “Teacher Development and Evaluation” and 3: “AFT’s Pathway to Student Success: What Every Student Needs,” both resolutions from the AFT Executive Council, were voted as the top two prioritized by the committee, seemingly based on the AFT desire to bring them to the floor. Resolution 8 was made 3rd priority of the Educational Issues Committee with help of strong words about school closings from Detroit delegates and CTU convention delegate Jen Johnson despite attempts to make Resolution 4 Designing High Schools for Student Success the 3rd priority from the committee. Jen Johnson spoke to the violence caused by closing and turnarounds, including the loss of Darrion Albert’s life this past school year and she spoke to the need to support resolutions drafted by union locals like the United Federation of Teachers, Local 2 (UFT).

Resolution 58 about opposing military schools and charter schools was substituted by UFT convention delegates to remove all language about fully opposing both military and charter schools in the Organizing and Collective Bargaining Committee on Thursday, July 8th despite attempts by CTU delegates to prevent this change. On Friday, July 9th, UFT Vice President for Educational Issues Aminda Gentile approached CTU convention delegates Carol Caref (also CTU interim Staff Coordinator and CTU Area A Vice President) and Jen Johnson (also CTU Area B Vice President) to discuss possible ways for CTU and UFT to work together on the issue of school closings.

Vice President Gentile was in the Educational Issues Committee and witnessed the work of CTU delegates to have their concerns heard by the convention. That morning, CTU convention delegates Jen Johnson, Xian Barrett (also CTU interim Legislative Coordinator), and Carol Caref met with UFT Vice President of Academic High Schools Leo Casey, UFT Special Representative Janella Hinds and UFT Special Representative Amy Arundell to negotiate what amendments could be made to existing UFT resolutions based on the language of the CTU resolution.

The CTU and UFT representatives agree to add language to Resolution 8, which was the UFT’s main priority resolution and Resolution 58. The representatives also agreed to adding one from the CTU resolution resolving that AFT demand that RTTT funding being used equitably rather than competitively was also agreed to be added to Resolution 60, which was not made a priority in committee so the amendment never made it to the convention floor.

Because of disagreements between the CTU and UFT representatives over how charter schools should best be dealt with, the amendments to Resolution 58 did not include a call for a moratorium on new charters despite the CTU representatives’ desires for one. The CTU representatives made clear to the UFT representatives that CTU delegates would make the final decision as to the delegation’s support for the proposed amendments and that CTU delegates were free to speak their mind on the floor of the convention if they had disagreements, especially concerning their perspectives on charter schools.

On that same day before lunch, all available CTU delegates were informed of the proposed amendments, which were then approved by the delegation though some disagreement about Resolution 58 remained. On the floor of the convention, UFT delegates moved two amendments to Resolution 58, which CTU delegates spoke to and they were adopted, on the floor. (See Resolution 58 as amended below.)

Several CTU delegates spoke to various issues on Resolution 58 on the floor including Carol Caref, Adria Mitchell and Kurt Hilgendorf. (CTU delegates Carol Caref and Katie Hogan also spoke passionately about the impact of charter schools, high stakes testing and teacher evaluation when Resolution 5 Teacher Development and Evaluation came to the floor. Carol’s comments were quoted on Ed Week online during the convention. Go to http://blogs.edweek.org/ edweek/teacherbeat/2010/07/evaluation_school_closure_reso.html)

On the morning of Saturday, July 10th, the CTU delegation discussed (in their daily caucus meeting after the Illinois Federation of Teachers breakfast) the ramifications of their first speakers on the floor of the convention on Friday, largely on Resolution 58 and the agreement to amend Resolution 8 with UFT support.

The CTU delegation agreed to go ahead and support the amendments in order to get at least some of the original CTU resolution language passed on the floor as attached to UFT Resolution 8. On Saturday, July 10th, further edits were proposed by UFT representatives to the amendments to Resolution 8 due to “push back” from AFT President Randi Weingarten, according to Academic High School Vice President Leo Casey. The edits were approved by CTU delegates Jen Johnson, Xian Barrett and Jesse Sharkey (also CTU Vice President).

Resolution 8 came to the floor of the convention on Saturday, July 10th. Due to a microphone order misjudgment, UFT Special Representative Janella Hinds moved the amendments to the resolution rather than Jen Johnson as planned, however, Jen Johnson spoke immediately after Janella in support of the amendments. (Jen Johnson’s remarks are reproduced below.)

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (above) speaking during the debate on Resolution 8 at the AFT convention on July 10, 2010. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.CTU President Karen Lewis then spoke immediately after the floor vote in favor of amendments in support of the resolution as amended. The resolution carried easily on the floor of the convention and all the UFT and CTU speakers received enthusiastic audible support on the floor. One delegate did ask AFT President Randi Weingarten to remove the word “urban” from the title of the resolution, which President Weingarten ruled as germane and in the spirit of the resolution before the final vote on the resolution.

CTU Resolution brought to AFT Convention.

Fellow AFT Convention Delegates, Brothers and Sisters in the Struggle,

The Chicago delegation to the AFT Convention (July 2010, Seattle, WA) humbly, but firmly submits the following resolution for your consideration. As we were not officially confirmed as elected delegates to the convention until Saturday, June 12th due to a runoff election on Friday, June 11th for the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union, our delegation could not submit a resolution to the AFT before the deadline. We hope that this resolution can be considered under the Special Rule (4b) in the AFT Convention Amendments and Resolutions book.

Please note that our resolution is wholly grounded in the experiences of public educators in Chicago where the movement toward the business model of education reform has had perhaps its most reaching impact. This resolution is just another means with which we (the Chicago delegation) hope to combat that movement. Please also note that there were many powerful and truthful resolutions submitted by other affiliates. We urge you to support the following resolutions in particular by our brothers and sisters: • Resolution #2, Administrative and Residual Employees Union, Local 4200, page 8

• Resolution #8, United Federation of Teacher, Local 2, page 32

• Resolution #19, California Federation of Teachers, page 55

• Resolution #20, Professional Staff Congress, Local 2334, page 56

• Resolution #22, Milwaukee Technical Federation, Local 212, page 61 • Resolution #30, AFT-Oregon, page 71 • Resolution #31, United Federation of Teachers, Local 2, page 71

• Resolution #54, Texas AFT/Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Local 3/United Educators of San Francisco, Local 61, page 105

• Resolution # 58, California Federation of Teachers, page 111

• Resolution #60, New York State United Teachers, page 113

• Resolution #61, New York State United Teachers, page 114

• Resolution #69, Professional Staff Congress, Local 2334, page 127

• Resolution #77, United Federation of Teachers, Local 2, page 140

• Resolution #81, United Federation of Teachers, Local 2, page 143

Please consider supporting our resolution and thinking of it as a statement of our vision for responding to the current attacks on public education.

-Delegates from the Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1 Promoting Excellence in Public Education by Abolishing Privatization & Charter School Proliferation, Ending NCLB and Shifting RTTT from a Competition to Equitable School Funding

WHEREAS it has always been the intention of the AFT and its affiliates to improve American education so that every student, especially the most disadvantaged, will graduate high school ready for college or a career; and Whereas excellence and innovation have always been hallmarks of traditional public schools where union professional educators teach students across the country and not solely the mark of private or charter schools;

and WHEREAS the original intent of charter schools was to enhance student learning and NOT to compete with or takeover or cause the closing of traditional public schools who are now being unjustly closed or turned around and their qualified teaching forces displaced;

and WHEREAS charter schools take over pre-existing public school buildings, are awarded new construction school buildings that are publicly funded, receive federal charter-only grant money, receive state bonds earmarked for individual charter operators, and benefit financially by diverting millions of dollars of taxpayer money for private enterprises all with little or no parent, community, student or teacher union participation of substantive input; and

WHEREAS traditional public neighborhood schools continue to accept ALL students and charter schools only enroll select students; and Whereas according to the Stanford University Center for Research on Educational Outcomes Study, 83% of charter schools perform worse than or fail to provide any measurable improvement over their traditional fully public counterparts and 37% of those charter schools performed worse than traditional public schools; and

Chicago Teachers Union delegate Carol Caref (Chicago Vocational High School) speaking during the debate on Resolution 8 at the Seattle convention of the American Federation of Teachers on July 10, 2010. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.WHEREAS when key resources and people from charter operators, corporation and private foundations such as the Gates Foundation continue to have an increasing influence and presence in Arne Duncan’s Department of Education within President Obama’s administration, a greater emphasis is placed on privatization and profit rather than real education reform; and

WHEREAS the Gates Foundation and other private foundations are funding states’ applications for RTTT money contributing to and exacerbating an uneven playing field; and

WHEREAS Bill Gates recently stated publicly at the National Charter School convention in Chicago on June 29, 2010 that the charter school movement "is the only place innovation will come from”; and Whereas the trend of legislating mayoral control of public school districts has led to a business model of education reform led by people with no experience in the field of education; and

WHEREAS NCLB has been universally recognized as a fundamentally flawed unfunded mandate whose use of high stakes testing to measure student progress and achievement unfairly punishes students, teachers, families, schools and districts; and

WHEREAS the movement toward using high stakes testing in teacher evaluation has escalated attacks on teacher seniority and tenure, which protect teachers’ professional creativity and autonomy and shield teachers from retaliation and arbitrary job loss; and

WHEREAS the arbitrary practice of closing and turning around public schools is destabilizing communities, taking experienced teachers out of the classroom and harming the reputation of highly qualified, certified educators built over 100 years of teaching the nation; and

WHEREAS RTTT further worsens the flaws of NCLB by basing teacher salary and evaluation on a philosophy of flawed high stakes tests that do not truly measure a child’s education and lead to the threat of “yet to be determined” assessments which drive the micro-management of elementary and high school curriculum and instruction; and Whereas RTTT further erodes the fairness of the funding of public education by creating a competition in which business model reforms are mandated as incentives for some states and districts to receive millions of dollars while other deserving and needy states and districts are unfairly left without adequate educational resources; and

RESOLVED that the AFT and its state and local affiliates support policies and legislation that put a moratorium on the creation of new charters, charter clones, and other schools that divert public education funds into corporate models; and Resolved that the AFT and its state and local affiliates demand all existing charter schools to be held as accountable and transparent as regular public schools, in regards to student progress and achievement, budget, funding and influence of corporate and private interests and entities; and Resolved that the AFT and its state and local affiliates will lobby for changes in legislation to allow existing charter schools to join large existing union locals rather than being forced to form their own small affiliate or work to close them; and Resolved that the AFT and its state and local affiliates recognize Bill Gates’ presence at the AFT Convention as a “Trojan horse”; and

RESOLVED that the AFT and its state and local affiliates fight to protect teacher tenure, seniority and due process rights so that trained educators can have job security and individual autonomy to develop innovative curriculum and instruction and lead local school reform; and

RESOLVED that the AFT and its state and local affiliates demand that school districts stop the arbitrary closing and turning around of schools and rehire displaced and terminated teachers immediately; and

Chicago Teachers Union delegate Jen Johnson (above) speaking during the debate on Resolution 8 at the AFT convention in Seattle. The debate took place on July 10, 2010. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.RESOLVED that the AFT and its state and local affiliates reject the concept of merit pay for educators tied to student progress and achievement; and

RESOLVED that the AFT and its state and local affiliates campaign to expose the for-profit motives of high stakes testing companies and end the use high stakes testing which is used to punish students, teachers, families, schools and districts rather than build better schools; and Resolved that the AFT and its state and local affiliates lobby to overturn legislation allowing mayoral control of school districts and to put education back in the hands of educators; and

RESOLVED that the AFT and its state and local affiliates expose RTTT as based on the same faulty premises as NCLB and demand that RTTT funds are used equitably for all states in order to engage in real education reform lead by professional, union educators; and

Resolved that the AFT and its state and local affiliates will march, petition, rally, hold media events, mobilize its members and utilize the help of supportive community partners and use all resources at its disposal to dispel the myths about the success of charter schools compared to traditional public schools, to expose the inequalities that exist within the funding and management of public education and to improve the public perception of public education. Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1

Resolution 58, as substituted in the Organizing and Collective Bargaining Committee on Thursday, July 8th, then amended on the floor on Friday, July 9th 58. OPPOSE MILITARY ACADEMIES AND CHARTER SCHOOLS

Committee recommends concurrence with the following substitute resolution, which appears below the original resolution.

WHEREAS, the forces of educational privatization and charter companies are making strong attempts to convert existing public school campuses throughout the country; and

WHEREAS, the forces of educational privatization and charter companies are seeking to convert new publicly funded school construction projects to charter and other types of schools; and

WHEREAS, community, parent, faculty, labor and youth voices are not a part of the dialogue that allows for these charterizations and privatizations; and

WHEREAS, existing collective bargaining agreements are being circumvented and ignored in this process; and

WHEREAS, many of these schools may be initiated as or converted by private companies into military-style academies:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers oppose the formation of any new military and military-style academies proposed in public school districts; and RESOLVED, that the AFT oppose charterization and privatization of public schools in any form; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT publicize this stand to all AFT locals and affiliates.

(Underlined language below represents amendments agreed upon by representatives from UFT and CTU.)

58. IMPROVED PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY, TRANSPARENCY AND VOICE IN CHARTER SCHOOLS

WHEREAS, the recent rush to expand the number of charter schools in many states has not been accompanied by a commitment to ensure that charter schools are “public schools” in the fullest meaning of the term, dedicated to education for the public good and in our common purposes as American citizens; and

WHEREAS, charter schools must be “public schools” not only in name but in their accountability to students, educators, families, communities and taxpayers for quality, equity, transparency and professional voice; and WHEREAS, research has shown disturbing inconsistencies in the practice of many charter schools with respect to enrolling and retaining students with disabilities, English language learners, and from homeless and low-income families on the same basis as regular public schools; and

WHEREAS, existing state charter school laws and regulations have resulted in lax oversight and less rigorous financial and educational reporting requirements to the public than regular public schools; and WHEREAS, transparency, accountability and universal access continue to be resisted by well-financed anti-public education forces such as those represented by the Walton, Bradley and similar foundations whose cynical and selective funding of charter schools conceals their larger purpose of privatizing public education and stripping educators of professional voice and parents and communities of the information and power to assure a quality education for their children; and

WHEREAS, when educators in charter schools have demanded a voice in their workplace through union representation, charter school operators and charter advocates have actively worked to deny and impede educators from gaining that voice, although the evidence demonstrates that far form being an impediment to learning, real teacher involvement in school governance makes schools better and makes the innovations more sustainable; and WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers represents teachers and support personnel in 140 charter schools across the nation and has assisted their efforts to organize successfully for professional voice, transparency, meaningful accountability and advocacy on behalf of quality education:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers support efforts to seek changes to federal, state and local laws and regulations to ensure that charter schools are fully transparent in their operations and directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance, admissions and enrollment policies, respect and support for teacher and staff voice in school policy and program, potential conflict of interest and disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds in as rigorous a manner as regular public schools and to allow charter school staffs to join existing union locals rather than being forced to form their own small affiliates; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT demand that all schools—charter schools as well as district public schools—be held to the same standards of accountability and transparency with regard to student progress and achievement, budget, funding and the influence of corporate and private interests and entities; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT accelerate our support of parental and community efforts to advocate for transparency and accountability in charter schools, help affiliates build capacity with respect to charter schools responsiveness and accountability, and assist charter school teachers and support personnel collectively to organize for professional voice and quality education.

(Underlined language below represents amendments agreed upon by representatives from UFT and CTU.)

Resolution 8, as amended in Educational Issues Committee on Thursday, July 8, 2010.

8. OPPOSE THE UNJUSTIFIED CLOSURE OF URBAN NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

Committee recommends concurrence as amended below;

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers knows that the existence of low-performing schools diminishes public confidence in all of our schools, has negative consequences for teachers and other school staff and denies some children the type of excellent public school education that others receive and all deserve; and

WHEREAS, those who advocate closing schools often lack information about proven research-based strategies and resources necessary to appropriately teach the most vulnerable students, including young people with special needs, those who are learners of English, have an interrupted education and/ore who are over age and undercredited; and

WHEREAS, members of the Aft are committed to ensuring that all public schools effectively educate all students, regardless of their economic or cultural background, through aligned curriculum, standards and assessments; and

WHEREAS, educators play a crucial role in students’ lives, both inside and outside of the classroom, and schools are often the stable central force in a neighborhood and many students’ lives; and

WHEREAS, local departments of education have an obligation to take bold steps to improve schools that have not supported students’ academic development, to close the achievement gap for students of color and students living in lower-income neighborhoods by supporting and promoting the work of educators and administrators who work collaboratively to meet the specific needs of their students, parents and communities; and

WHEREAS, the tough economy has resulted in a dramtic increase of proposed and projected closures of public schools in midsize and large cities such as Chicago and Louisville, and an unprecedented 20 schools being identified for truncation of phase-out in New York City and 29 schools in Kansas City; and

WHEREAS, the decision to close a neighborhood school can be devastating to the children and community it serves and must be enacted only as a last resort:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers continue to advocate the necessary resources and the improvement of neighborhood schools identified as failing to effectively educate the most vulnerable students; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT demand demonstrated effective leadership, relevant professional development of educators, small class size for intensive assistance and implementation of other research-based strategies that best serve students attending schools in need of improvement; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT continue to oppose school closures based on invalid measures that disregard the impact of neighborhood schools in the life of a community and do not offer solutions to improve teaching practices and supports for student learning such as full-service community schools that offer wrap-around services to students and supports to the local community; and

RESOLVED, that the Aft and its locals advocate for federal, state and local educational policies that effectively balance the need for improvement of low-performing schools and closure of the achievement gap with the implementation of sound teaching and research-proven practices and strategies that enhance opportunities for all of America’s children to achieve and succeed; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and its state and local affiliates demand that school districts stop the arbitrary closing and turning around of schools and rehire displaced and terminated teachers immediately.

(Underlined language below represents amendments agreed upon by representatives from UFT and CTU.)

Resolution 8, as amended on the convention floor Saturday, July 10, 2010. 8. OPPOSE THE UNJUSTIFIED CLOSURE OF URBAN NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

Committee recommends concurrence as amended below;

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers knows that the existence of low-performing schools diminishes public confidence in all of our schools, has negative consequences for teachers and other school staff and denies some children the type of excellent public school education that others receive and all deserve; and

WHEREAS, those who advocate closing schools often lack information about proven research-based strategies and resources necessary to appropriately teach the most vulnerable students, including young people with special needs, those who are learners of English, have an interrupted education and/ore who are over age and undercredited; and

WHEREAS, members of the Aft are committed to ensuring that all public schools effectively educate all students, regardless of their economic or cultural background, through aligned curriculum, standards and assessments; and

WHEREAS, educators play a crucial role in students’ lives, both inside and outside of the classroom, and schools are often the stable central force in a neighborhood and many students’ lives; and

WHEREAS, local departments of education have an obligation to take bold steps to improve schools that have not supported students’ academic development, to close the achievement gap for students of color and students living in lower-income neighborhoods by supporting and promoting the work of educators and administrators who work collaboratively to meet the specific needs of their students, parents and communities; and

WHEREAS, the tough economy has resulted in a dramatic increase of proposed and projected closures of public schools in midsize and large cities such as Chicago and Louisville, and an unprecedented 20 schools being identified for truncation of phase-out in New York City and 29 schools in Kansas City; and

WHEREAS, the decision to close a neighborhood school can be devastating to the children and community it serves and must be enacted only as a last resort:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers continue to advocate the necessary resources and the improvement of neighborhood schools identified as failing to effectively educate the most vulnerable students; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT demand demonstrated effective leadership, relevant professional development of educators, small class size for intensive assistance and implementation of other research-based strategies that best serve students attending schools in need of improvement; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT support its state and local affiliates in their fight to preserve locally negotiated agreements that protect, among other things, due process and job security, and that support teacher professionalism, so that locals can shape the redesign of schools to meet the needs of teachers and students; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT continue to oppose school closures based on invalid measures that disregard the impact of neighborhood schools in the life of a community and do not offer solutions to improve teaching practices and supports for student learning such as full-service community schools that offer wrap-around services to students and supports to the local community; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT urge its state and local affiliates to campaign to expose the for-profit motives of high stakes testing companies and end the improper use of test results which diminishes real learning and is used to punish students, teachers, families, schools and districts rather than build better schools; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT urge its state and local affiliates demand that school districts stop the arbitrary closing and turning around of schools and rehire displaced and terminated teachers immediately.

RESOLVED, that the AFT urge and support its state and local affiliates to march, petition, rally, hold media events, and mobilize and utilize the help of supportive community partners to expose the inequalities that exist within the funding and management of public education and to improve the public perception of public education; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and its locals advocate for federal, state and local educational policies that effectively balance the need for improvement of low-performing schools and closure of the achievement gap with the implementation of sound teaching and research-proven practices and strategies that enhance opportunities for all of America’s children to achieve and succeed.

Jen Johnson’s remarks in support of amendments to Resolution 8 on the floor of the AFT convention Saturday, July 10th

My name is Jennifer Johnson and I am from the Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1. I would like to support the resolution as amended and thank Janella for supporting these amendments. [Interjection by Randi Weingarten.] The closing of schools in Chicago and New York are prime examples of the current attacks on public education. AS a member of Chicago Teachers Union, we’ve witnessed our students rapidly losing their neighborhood public schools all in the name of improvement. It seems clear to me that the closing of schools in the name of improving education is both a fallacy and a mask for attacking tenure rights and seniority, feeding the profits of testing companies and busting our unions. I believe that the amendments that you see before you are in the spirit of the resolution and would enhance the message that the authors of the resolution wish to send. In Chicago, our contract is under attack from a CEO who sees dollar signs rather than years of service. He’s trying to chip away at a 10-month, which is short, reassignment pool for tenured teachers who are displaced by the closing and turning around of schools. We must preserve protections for our experienced brothers and sisters so that they can do what they love—which is to teach young people. In Chicago, over the last two years , we’ve built And we’ve gotten schools off that closing list for the 1st time ever.

This resolution and these amendments state that the best way to both improve our schools and educate our youth is to make sure schools are open and teaching and learning by union teachers is unmuzzled by the motives of testing companies. We must protect teachers from losing their jobs as a result of these motives and mobilize to make sure that the public understands just how devastating these closings are for students, teachers, families and communities across this country. Thank you.





Comments:

July 18, 2010 at 7:13 AM

By: Katie Hogan

Fighting to get resolved's in

This article gives a great overview of the intense struggle we had in Seattle. It's hard to understand, unless one was there, the total and complete orchestration of Local 2 - New York - of all committees and floor debate. I would like ot add to the article that I did get up in my committee (Organizing and Labor Issues) and try to add our orginal Resolved: "Resolved that the AFT and its state and local affiliates will march, petition, rally, hold media events, mobilize its members and utilize the help of supportive community partners and use all resources at its disposal to dispel the myths about the success of charter schools compared to traditional public schools, to expose the inequalities that exist within the funding and management of public education and to improve the public perception of public education" -- the amendment was voted on by voice -- and in audible surprise it was unable to determine to pass or vote down. You had obviously NY delegation voting against -- they had actually stacked the committee. It went to vote by hand and we were unfortunately defeated -- but not overwhelmingly. I also got to speak in that committee about WHY it's so important to add this particular resolved considering the national wave that is on its wave courtesy of Arne Duncan. This was a huge learning experience for everyone and I think when we go to Detroit and can write our own resolutions we will be much more prepared. However, we were fighing tooth and nail for anything we could get with our limited experience and resources. I was very proud to represent Local 1.

July 18, 2010 at 7:29 PM

By: Lee White

Substance Report of Convention

I am in agreement on the fight we fought just to get the recognition that we had submitted our Resolutions. The Convention floor is not the place for the uncertainty and the faint of heart. Delegation support from networking and working the mics will be the best way to get out point across. Our limited experience and resources were much a factor. However, with training and networking coalition builing we are going back stronger and more experience. Thank You Local #1 CTU.

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