July 13, 2014
Kate Childs Graham
AFT Members Commit to Fighting Back Against Vergara, Harris Decisions
Special Order of Business Passes at AFT Convention
LOS ANGELES—Today, delegates of the American Federation of Teachers' biennial convention in Los Angeles unanimously passed a special order of business—recommended by the executive council—to fight back against attacks on unions and teachers like Vergara v. California and Harris v. Quinn, and to fight forward to reclaim the promise of America.
The special order characterizes these lawsuits as "contributing to an escalating and engineered imbalance in our democracy."
Amended from the floor, the order—originally drafted by the executive council—was revised to include strong language on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who publicly supported the Vergara decision. It derided his promotion of "misguided and ineffective policies on deprofessionalization, privatization and test obsession."
The order called upon the president of the United States to "implement a secretary improvement plan which will be based upon standing up for public education, supporting teachers and all school workers, inspiring parents and the public to join us in creating the public schools we want and deserve, and leading with us in reclaiming the promise of public education."
It asked the president to take the following actions:
- Enact the funding and equity recommendations of the Each and Every Child report issued by the congressionally chartered, bipartisan Equity Commission;
- Work with us to change the NCLB/RTTT "test and punish" accountability system to a "support and improve" model; and
- Promote rather than question the teachers and school support staff of America.
It goes on to say that if "Secretary Duncan does not improve, and given that he has been treated fairly and his due process rights have been upheld, the secretary of education must resign."
AFT President Randi Weingarten made a statement following the passage of the special order:
"This special order is basically saying, "Enough is enough." Teachers are evaluated and their future livelihoods are linked to that. And when they fall short, they should have a chance to improve. And that's what this special order represents. Make no mistake about it: There's a lot of hurt that has been expressed from the floor—the feeling that the secretary of education doesn't walk in the shoes of public educators or provide the support and resources necessary to ensure all children have a high-quality public education."
The convention continues through Monday. At 2:00 p.m. Pacific time today, Donna Brazile will join the convention to announce the formation of Democrats for Public Education. Press can watch live at www.aft.org/convention/live.cfm.
Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten: http://twitter.com/rweingarten
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The AFT represents 1.6 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.