New York State United Teachers leaders are crisscrossing the state on a seven-week bus tour, https://fundourfutureny.org/ witnessing the impact of funding shortages in public schools from Long Island to the North Country. Since Jan. 15, they’ve been drawing attention to a plethora of woes, including teacher and support staff layoffs, counselor shortages, ballooning class sizes, and abandoned music and art programs. To help, NYSUT is calling for a $2.1 billion increase in state aid to schools this year, and supporting a new tax on the many ultrawealthy people in New York to support it.
Our members’ push to heal sick schools in Philadelphia is being felt at the state level, with the health emergency there reaching such a point that the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has sued its school district, persuaded the governor to budget more than $1 billion to fix schools statewide, and this week proposed a union-driven solution to triage an asbestos crisis, which so far has closed eight schools.
Educators, nurses and flight attendants are calling for a coordinated response to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States. The coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, where there have been thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths.
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.
A round-the-clock mediation session on Jan. 22 between registered nurses and administrators at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis, Ore., ended with a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract. The Oregon Nurses Association represents the 500 nurses at the center.
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.
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.
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.).