Collaborating for culturally responsive education

In a world where students are more and more ethnically and racially diverse, many educators are eager to devise more inclusive approaches to teaching and learning. That’s why the AFT’s Center for School Improvement Leadership Institute this year focused on culturally responsive pedagogy to help educators collaborate with administrators, parents, students, and others invested in creating safe and welcoming schools to develop content, scaffolding and instruction that embrace students’ cultures and experiences.

Bargaining rights imminent for Colorado state workers

After decades of heartbreaking misses, Colorado lawmakers appear poised to ensure collective bargaining rights for state employees—a move that would help alleviate a crisis in job turnover for critically important state services. New legislation spearheaded by Colorado WINS, a statewide affiliate of both the AFT and the Service Employees International Union, would allow almost 28,000 state employees to come to the bargaining table and make their voices heard by negotiating a higher standard of living through safer working conditions, family-sustaining compensation, and innovations for the common good.

Court considers public funding for religious schools

This week, the Supreme Court is considering whether to strike down the prohibition on state funding for religious education. The case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, examines whether school voucher programs must include religious schools among those they fund. The AFT is among dozens of organizations that have filed amicus briefs to protect the ban on religious school vouchers. The case could be “a virtual earthquake in terms of what will happen to religious liberty and public education in this country,” says AFT President Randi Weingarten.

House slaps down DeVos policy on student debt

In a significant win for public education, the House of Representatives voted to strike down Betsy DeVos’ rule restricting student debt cancellation. DeVos’ rewrite of the “borrower defense” rule—a rule originally designed to help students who attended scam colleges and were left with mountains of debt—would make it almost impossible for defrauded students to get relief. “The House made it clear that we care more about defending defrauded students than enriching predatory schools,” says Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.).

Tuning in to the helpers: social emotional/specialized service providers

As educators continue to agitate for increased public school funding at strikes and rallies across the nation, the need for more social workers, school psychologists, school nurses and other crucial staff has become a common theme. The AFT is on it: On Jan. 13 and 14, we held a small conference of these professionals, along with speech pathologists, community school facilitators, paraprofessionals and others to understand better how we can support them—whether it’s through the fight for funding, professional development support or building community within their professions. “We’ve got to make these jobs as much a part of teaching and learning as anything else,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “If math and English are part of what kids really need on an ongoing basis, so is well-being.”

Florida rises up for public education

The AFT’s Fund Our Future movement is gaining momentum, with educators turning out by the thousands to win public school funding in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and West Virginia. Now, it’s Florida’s turn: On Jan. 13, the Florida Education Association led 15,000 public school supporters at a powerful and historic rally on the state Capitol, demanding more funds for public schools and amplifying the needs of their students. “This is a ‘which side are you on?’ moment,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. “It’s time to make public schools the schools our children deserve—and the schools where our educators have the tools and respect they need for our kids to soar.”