September 11, 2009
Statement by Antonia Cortese,
Secretary-Treasurer, American Federation of Teachers,
On ‘United We Serve,’ a National Call to Service
In April, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act that officially recognizes Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. United We Serve is President Obama’s national call to service, challenging all Americans to engage in sustained, collaborative and focused service in their communities.
WASHINGTON—Communities improve when everyone, no matter what age or income level, gets involved. United We Serve is an excellent way to help Americans do something to make the world a little bit better.
During the AFT’s back-to-school tour over the past few weeks, we saw the positive impact of strong school-community collaboration. In St. Louis; Houston; Portland, Ore., Boston, Philadelphia and other cities, public schools are teaming up with community partners to provide healthcare services, counseling, recreational activities, computer access and other services to disadvantaged children and their families.
Over the summer, thousands of AFT members accessed the United We Serve section on the AFT Web site, and many locals answered President Obama’s call to service. Members of the Perth Amboy (N.J.) Federation of Teachers held a book drive and delivered books to local medical, assisted living and adult care facilities in their area. Another AFT affiliate, the Keene (N.H.) Police Officers’ Association, partnered with local businesses to conduct free electronic fingerprinting for children in order to expedite efforts to find children who are missing or lost.
The AFT will continue to strongly support United We Serve, and will spread the message about the importance and rewards of getting involved in our communities.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.