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Steve Conn now president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers

A new era began in Detroit recently with the election of Steve Conn, a teacher at Detroit's Cass Tech High School, as President of the storied Detroit Federation of Teachers. The DFT for decades had been a militant leader of the American Federation of Teachers. For the past decade, the leadership of the DFT, however, joined in a series of compromises with the neoliberal agenda to destroy Detroit and especially the city's public schools. With this election, the possibility exists that the DFT will join the fight against that agenda.

A press release from the DFT came on January 27, 2015:

About 800 members attended the DFT mass meeting on Sunday, Jan. 25 at the Adoba Hotel in Dearborn. Thanks to all who came and brought with you all of your optimism and determination to begin a new era of democracy, organizing and action.

Steve Conn, new President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.I was honored to deliver an address on the state of our union, which you may read at www.dft231.com

In a strong show of unity, we passed several important resolutions, many unanimously. These include our plan for an aggressive campaign to recruit and train building reps for each school and work site. I vowed to support and defend any rep or member who faces administrative harassment.

We also resolved to demand that everyone receive their fall assignments before the end of the school year; reduction of class size; unfreezing of pay steps; restoration and expansion of music, art and phys ed (ROTC is no substitute for phys ed); hiring of all categories of DFT support staff; the ending of the 2-hour staff meetings; teachers evaluations of principals; an end to excessive and duplicate standardized tests; cancellation of the districts debt by the state; and an immediate end to state control of DPS .

We also voted to deliver these demands to the governor, the EM, and the so-called Coaltion for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, and to mobilize the students, parents and community in Detroit to fight to save public education.

Many members signed up for an action committee to organize a community coalition to stand with us for our demands, and another to oppose excessive standardized testing. In addition, many members submitted their information to begin filing group grievances on the issues of class size, lost preps, and improper evaluations.

We voted to begin organizing the EAA and charters into the DFT as a first step toward reincorporating these schools into DPS.

I urge all members to attend the next general membership meeting, on Feb. 12, so that together we may take steps to begin the essential work we have resolved to embark upon. The next DFT Executive Board meeting is on Feb. 5, and that meeting is also open to all members.



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