PSRP Reporter

SPRING 2015

Feature Story
PUTTING THE U IN UNION

SCHOOL SUPPORT STAFF think about everything we do through the lens of whether it’s good for our students, schools, families and communities. We know that if we want to change things for the better, sometimes it takes more than keeping our heads down and doing our jobs. It takes union activism.

Luckily, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel, by the very nature of our work, know how to solve problems and engage with our communities. And luckily, such deep engagement can be fun and rewarding.

Here are four inspiring stories of PSRPs from AFT affiliates around the country—Oregon, Ohio, California and Illinois—who have demonstrated how you put the “u” in union.


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Also in this issue:

  • AFT mourns the loss of two PSRP champions

    Maria Portalatin, Linda Bridges loved their union

    THE AFT HAS LOST two of its most passionate sisters and leaders.

    New York paraprofessional and former AFT Vice President Maria Portalatin, who died in December, was a pioneer, serving on the AFT’s original paraprofessional committee and the PSRP program and policy council. She always...

  • Where We Stand

    Law needs to keep high standards for paraprofessionals Randi Weingarten, AFT President

    “PARAS ARE A VITAL PART of the complete educational process,” wrote one school support worker from Illinois. “We have to make sure that all our paraprofessionals are not only qualified, but have the continuing professional development needed to perform the duties they are hired for,” wrote...

  • Putting the U in Union

    Together, PSRPs take problem solving into our own hands

    SCHOOL SUPPORT STAFF think about everything we do through the lens of whether it’s good for our students, schools, families and communities. We know that if we want to change things for the better, sometimes it takes more than keeping our heads down and doing our jobs. It takes union activism....

  • Little things you can do 
to help in union-building

    INVOLVED MEMBERS are the strength of our union. Here are some ideas from PSRP activists on how to increase members’ engagement:

    • Help make co-workers’ introduction to the union a really positive experience. Most people don’t know a whole lot about unions. Introduce
    • ...
  • Member uses union CPR training to save a life

    ‘I didn’t want the mother to die in front of her daughter’

    Most members who get AFT training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation will never have the chance to use it, but that turned out not to be the case for Robin Herrin, a special education paraprofessional who saved a woman’s life on New Year’s Eve.

    She was ringing in the new year with her...

  • AFT joins effort to help grieving students

    New resource helps school staff know what to do and say

    NINE IN 10 CHILDREN suffer the death of a family member or friend by the end of high school, yet a recent survey indicates that only 7 percent of AFT members have received the type of training that can help them support students at these difficult times. That is a terrible mismatch of challenges...

  • In the News

    PSRPs WIN RECOGNITION
    Public acclaim comes rarely for school support personnel, but back-to-school season last fall provided a windfall of publicity for school bus drivers, bus attendants, cafeteria workers, custodians and paraprofessionals in southwest Florida.

    A...

  • ‘Transitioning to Kindergarten’ makes strong debut

    Early childhood educators enrich skills to give preschoolers a positive start

    Three schools are spearheading a pilot program in Brooklyn, N.Y., aimed at taking “Transitioning to Kindergarten,” a toolkit co-created by the AFT and the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and making it the newest resource for enriching the home-school connection, promoting dialogue...

  • A frightening police stop for a PSRP leader

    “OFFICER, WHY are you stopping me?”

    School food service manager Steven Brinkley recounted the following experience in January, during the AFT’s first forum in a yearlong initiative on racial justice.

    It happened a few months ago, on a Wednesday night at about 11. Brinkley left a...