September 18, 2009
Statement by Randi Weingarten, President,
American Federation of Teachers,
On Blue Ribbon School Award to
City of Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School
The U.S. Education Department announced its 2009 National Blue Ribbon Schools, which includes the Central and West campuses of the City of Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School. The school’s staff formed a union in 2007, joining the AFT’s Broward Teachers Union (Broward County, Fla.) and becoming the first unionized charter school in Florida.
WASHINGTON—This is an incredibly special honor for the teachers and staff of Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School—one of just 10 charter schools to win the prestigious Blue Ribbon Award. The award reinforces what we already know—charter schools can be laboratories for innovative instruction and labor relations, and unionization is a way to allow teachers to take the risks to succeed. The Pembroke Pines teachers, guidance counselors and other professional staff formed a union in 2007 to have a voice in improving teaching and learning. The Blue Ribbon Schools award, honoring schools that have made significant gains in student achievement, clearly demonstrates the positive impact the Broward Teachers Union has had at Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School. This is a proud moment for the staff, who are working tirelessly to make Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School a school of excellence and a role model for other charter schools.
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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.