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Inside AFT
Updated On: Apr 22, 2016

APRIL 22, 2016

AFT for Hillary

After Hillary Clinton's decisive win in the April 19 New York state primary, leaders of the AFT, the New York State United Teachers and the United Federation of Teachers praised Clinton and thanked thousands of members who volunteered and voted in the contest. "You can't pull a fast one on New York voters," says AFT President Randi Weingarten. "When New Yorkers took the measure of both candidates, they decisively said Hillary Clinton is the best qualified to be president. Her experience, accomplishments and history of delivering for New York families stood above big promises. They chose a candidate who not only shares their values, but who can deliver on those values from the White House." More than 2,000 NYSUT members volunteered, knocking on more than 35,000 doors and making more than 160,000 calls. When Clinton spoke to 2,000 NYSUT members in Rochester last week, she "vowed to stand with educators and said, 'I am with you. I will fight for you,'" says NYSUT President Karen E. Magee, who is an AFT vice president. "NYSUT members remembered her unwavering support for public education and for workers' rights, women's rights and LGBT rights, and they stood with her and fought for her, all the way to victory."

The youngest picketer in Illinois

Hundreds of non-tenure-track faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign walked out of their labs and classrooms on April 19 and 20 in a two-day strike to protest the university's refusal to negotiate improved job security, opportunities for promotion and professional support, and protection of academic freedom. The strike includes members of the Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition Local 6546 (AFT/IFT, AAUP), which represents 500 full-time teaching, research and clinical faculty. After more than 18 months of attempting to resolve these issues, the union—certified in 2014—decided that a two-day strike was necessary to get the administration to negotiate a fair contract. "Most members have temporary, nine-month contracts, and they've been considered temporary for decades," says Dennis Dullea, an English lecturer and the vice president of NTFC. "By agreeing to multiyear contracts, stability will substitute for faculty members' annual anxiety over whether they will be employed in the fall, and they can focus on teaching and preparing their courses."

Helene Andrews testifying


Violence is a daily threat for 15 million healthcare workers in the United States, and a new report from the Government Accountability Office reveals that more needs to be done to address the problem. The report says the rate of workplace violence in healthcare facilities is high and the severity is intensifying. "Preventing workplace violence should be given the highest priority," says Helene Andrews, a registered nurse at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut. Andrews, a member of the Danbury Nurses Union/AFT Connecticut, was one of a number of health professionals who traveled to Washington, D.C., to join members of Congress on April 14 to unveil the results of the GAO's two-year study. Andrews was assaulted by a patient in 2009. During the attack, she fell to the floor and shattered her pelvis. "Initially, I couldn't comprehend what had happened," she said. The aftermath was difficult and painful. Andrews says physical recovery took more than six months, but she remains traumatized and vulnerable from the attack, although she continues to work.

Weingarten and California teacher. Russ Curtis photo

In her latest column appearing in the New York Times, AFT President Randi Weingarten writes about the looming teacher shortage our public schools face and how we can address the challenge before it turns into a crisis. "Enrollment in teacher preparation programs has declined sharply in recent years. And we lose an alarming number of teachers once they enter the profession—between 40 and 50 percent of new teachers leave within five years," she writes. At the same time, teachers have been under attack for years—as is their latitude to do their jobs—through legislation, education policy and the courts. So what's the answer to solving the teacher shortage? Weingarten suggests that we look to high-achieving countries for lessons about how they educate their students and how they treat their educators. "They place a heavy emphasis on teacher preparation, mentoring and collaboration," she notes. "Their teachers have voice and agency to meet children's needs. Simply put, these countries don't out-test us, but they do out-prepare, out-invest, out-respect and, as a result, outperform the United States."


When Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act in December 2015, it made no changes to existing rules and regulations requiring that all schools in a district receive comparable state and district funding. But now, the Department of Education appears to be pushing changes on its own by using a separate part of the law known as "supplement, not supplant," the idea that federal education funding for needy students should always be used in addition to, not instead of, state and local dollars. Many of these concerns surfaced this week when a committee of education stakeholders sat down in Washington, D.C., to review the department's draft regulations. Many groups, including the AFT, argued that the draft must be revised in order to preserve flexibility needed at the state and local level, to guard against unintended consequences in schools, and to preserve the will of Congress. "The policy details can seem complicated," AFT President Randi Weingarten writes in a recent column, "but what's at stake is simple: Will schools have the latitude to make staffing decisions based on their own needs—like how many experienced teachers they retain or new teachers they hire—or will federal policy force the leveling down of funding, so some schools face budget cuts that force them to make no-win choices about which teachers to keep or hire?" The U.S. Department of Education recently convened a group of "negotiated rulemakers" to hammer out some of the details that would govern ESSA implementation. AFT Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker represented the AFT in this group, and one of the issues discussed was the supplement, not supplant issue.


After years of No Child Left Behind's test-and-punish schemes, the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act provides a new, necessary opportunity to reset local, state and federal education policy. The key, as always, will be implementation of the law, and that's why the AFT is launching "ESSA Updates." This new e-newsletter for AFT leaders and content specialists will track some of the major developments as ESSA-related regulations and guidance take shape at the federal level. It also will spotlight new, useful materials that can help affiliates advocate for sound ESSA implementation in their states and communities. And it will highlight policy victories tied to the new law that are taking shape across the nation. 

AFTPlus mortgage benefit ad


  • Share My Lesson has resources on Harriet Tubman, Andrew Jackson and the $20 bill.
  • The Tampa Bay Times won a Pulitzer Prize this year for a series about how county school leaders withheld promised funding and support from five predominantly black schools, creating "failure factories."
  • Raleigh has already lost $3 million due to North Carolina's discriminatory LGBT law.


  • AFT President Randi Weingarten will participate in get-out-the-vote efforts in Philadelphia on April 24. On April 26, she will address a rally organized by the Detroit Federation of Teachers, the Detroit Federation of Paraprofessionals and the Detroit Association of Educational Office Employees in Lansing, Mich. On April 27, Weingarten will be honored by Street Law with the 2016 Edward L. O'Brien Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual awards dinner in Washington, D.C. On April 29, she will attend Pearson's annual general meeting in London.
  • AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson will speak at the morning plenary session at the National Council on Educating Black Children convention in Baltimore on April 23. On April 29, she will be the keynote speaker at the Corpus Christi AFT's 40th anniversary event in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • AFT Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker will participate in Education Minnesota's governing board meeting on April 28 and the Representative Convention on April 29-30, both in Bloomington, Minn.

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, the Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition, Adrienne Coles, Leilah Mooney Joseph, Beth Antunez, Mike Rose, Tear Jones Murphy, Catherine Mason and Mary Kaniewski. Dan Gursky, editor; Sean Lishansky, 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.

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