Working college students often have a hard time making ends meet, especially with family obligations and budgets stretched thin. This faculty-run emergency fund is one solution that has a track record of keeping students in school and on the path to graduation. Whether it’s gas money or utility bills, these faculty are happy to extend a helping hand.
In the last few weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations reported in the United States have increased to record levels because of omicron, a new COVID-19 variant. Even so, the experts who joined AFT President Randi Weingarten on Jan. 11 to discuss the variant, vaccines and schools say that we have the tools we need to fight omicron. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Dr. Irwin Redlener and Dr. Vin Gupta are experts who the AFT has relied on for insight during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why Weingarten asked them to take part in another virtual town hall during this latest surge to answer questions posed by members.
Amid a record-breaking number of COVID-19 cases, the federal government has allowed an emergency standard designed to protect healthcare workers from the virus to expire. A coalition of unions representing healthcare workers, including the AFT, and the AFL-CIO sued the government to get those protections back.
When you think of Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), you may think of a decorated combat pilot who, as a member of Congress, has made life easier for veterans, new mothers and babies. You might not think of a person with disabilities who has recently faced a barrier to voting. Yet, that’s exactly what happened to the U.S. senator when she went to cast a ballot at her local polling place. Read as she tells her story during a forum sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute and the Century Foundation.
With a federal lawsuit filed Dec. 13, educators and parents are taking a stand against New Hampshire’s attempt to implement a vague and punishing law that makes it impossible for public school teachers to know what and how to teach—a new law commonly known as the “divisive concepts” law. By attempting to restrict the way discrimination, diversity, bias, justice and struggle are viewed or taught, the measure puts educators at the center of a nightmare scenario: They would be required to comply with a law that appears to be at odds with the state’s constitution and its existing law mandating a robust and well-rounded public school education—an education that includes the teaching of accurate, honest history and current events.
A recent report has uncovered yet another case of racial disparity in education: Where there are more Black and Hispanic college students, there are fewer full-time faculty to go around. The study, published by the City University of New York Faculty Senate, shows gaping differences among CUNY and State University of New York colleges, where the number of faculty per 1,000 students at schools with a majority of Black and Hispanic students is lower than at those with a majority of white students. It’s an important finding since research shows more faculty engagement means greater academic success.
“Reading is key to life, to joy—to our very existence,” says AFT President Randi Weingarten. It’s foundational to everything we do. Now more than ever, after two years of disruption as the result of COVID-19, harnessing the love of reading is key to helping our students and families recover. “That’s why the AFT is launching the Reading Opens the World campaign—to first and foremost give children and young people free books to read, love and keep, and to open their world,” says Weingarten. This new multiyear, multimillion-dollar literacy campaign will support students, educators and families, and foster an ongoing love of reading.
Student loan borrowers are counting the days before student debt raises its menacing head once again: After a 21-month reprieve on student loan payments, they’ll have to start making their monthly payments again on Feb. 1. Research shows few are ready, and the AFT is one of 105 organizations to officially urge President Biden to cancel $50,000 in student debt. “Canceling up to $50,000 in student debt would provide transformational relief to about 80% of those with student debt,” they say. Read more about the tremendous impact this would have on individuals and on the economy.
Now that children ages 5 to 11 are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19, parents and educators have questions, and the AFT’s Facebook Live town hall on Nov. 18 gave people a chance to have experts address their concerns. Participants heard from Assistant Surgeon General Rear Admiral Aisha Mix, who is also known as the nation’s chief nursing officer, as well as AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos and parents from Massachusetts and Texas.