AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions


WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers knows that the existence of low-performing schools diminishes public confidence in all of our schools, has negative consequences for teachers and other school staff and denies some children the type of excellent public school education that others receive and all deserve; and

WHEREAS, those who advocate closing schools often lack information about proven research-based strategies and resources necessary to appropriately teach the most vulnerable students, including young people with special needs, those who are learners of English, have an interrupted education and/or who are over age and undercredited; and

WHEREAS, members of the AFT are committed to ensuring that all public schools effectively educate all students, regardless of their economic or cultural background, through aligned curriculum, standards and assessments; and

WHEREAS, educators play a crucial role in students' lives, both inside and outside of the classroom, and schools are often the stable central force in a neighborhood and many students' lives; and

WHEREAS, local departments of education have an obligation to take bold steps to improve schools that have not supported students' academic development, to close the achievement gap for students of color and students living in lower-income neighborhoods by supporting and promoting the work of educators and administrators who work collaboratively to meet the specific needs of their students, parents and communities; and

WHEREAS, the tough economy has resulted in a dramatic increase of proposed and projected closures of public schools in midsize and large cities such as Chicago and Louisville, and an unprecedented 20 schools being identified for truncation or phase-out in New York City and 29 schools in Kansas City; and

WHEREAS, the decision to close a neighborhood school can be devastating to the children and community it serves and must be enacted only as a last resort:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers continue to advocate for necessary resources and the improvement of neighborhood schools identified as failing to effectively educate the most vulnerable students; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT demand demonstrated effective leadership, relevant professional development of educators, small class size for intensive assistance and implementation of other research-based strategies that best serve students attending schools in need of improvement; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT support its state and local affiliates in their fight to preserve locally negotiated agreements that protect, among other things, due process and job security, and that support teacher professionalism, so that locals can shape the redesign of schools to meet the needs of teachers and students; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT continue to oppose school closures based on invalid measures that disregard the impact of neighborhood schools in the life of a community and do not offer solutions to improve teaching practices and supports for student learning such as full-service community schools that offer wrap-around services to students and supports to the local community; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT urge its state and local affiliates to campaign to expose the for-profit motives of high stakes testing companies and end the improper use of test results which diminishes real learning and is used to punish students, teachers, families, schools, and districts rather than build better schools; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT urge its state and local affiliates to demand that school districts stop the arbitrary closing and turning around of schools and rehire displaced and terminated teachers immediately; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT urge and support its state and local affiliates to march, petition, rally, hold media events, and mobilize and utilize the help of supportive community partners to expose the inequalities that exist within the funding and management of public education and to improve the public perception of public education; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and its locals advocate for federal, state and local educational policies that effectively balance the need for improvement of low-performing schools and closure of the achievement gap with the implementation of sound teaching and research-proven practices and strategies that enhance opportunities for all of America's children to achieve and succeed.