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Mini-Plenary Descriptions

July 22, 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Assessing the Common Core Test: Updates on the PARCC and SBAC Consortia
Two federally funded assessment consortia are designing testing systems aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Twenty-two states are part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC), and 24 states have joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). What will the new assessments mean for you and your students? How can you access the test items now in development, and what is the level of teacher engagement?
Presenters: Jeffrey Nellhaus, director, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers; Jacqueline E. King, director, higher education collaboration, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

Beyond Books: Award-Winning Authors on Bringing Stories Alive in Your Classroom
Simply put, to read and succeed, kids need books. But providing books is just the beginning. The AFT has been working with First Book, a national nonprofit organization, to provide struggling classrooms with unprecedented access to an ongoing supply of free and affordable books, access to supportive resources and community connections, and access to writers, like the award-winning authors on this panel, who can share the stories behind their stories and form connections for even the most reluctant readers. Through the Stories for All Project, First Book is working to ensure that publishers listen to educators and create the materials they crave: books and resources that raise underrepresented voices and reach all readers. Please join us for a conversation on connecting with authors and First Book to take your students deeper into books—and beyond!
Presenters: Jacqueline Woodson, author; Lulu Delacre, author; Erica S. Perl, author, vice president of publisher and author relations, First Book

Career Ladders and Alternative Compensation: Leveraging Professional Capacity to Improve Schools
Using the newly approved Cleveland model as a lens, presenters will discuss methods of developing career ladder and compensation models that will enhance professional practice and improve student achievement.
Presenters: Jillian Ahrens, vice president, Cleveland Teachers Union; Maryann R. Fredrick, first vice president/director of negotiations, Cleveland Teachers Union; Shari L. Obrenski, third vice president, senior high/special schools, Cleveland Teachers Union


Challenges and Opportunities: Creating Common Core Lessons
Find out what your colleagues at the Chicago Teachers Union, Cleveland Federation of Teachers and Jefferson County (Ala.) AFT learned as they delved deeply into creating lessons and units aligned to the Common Core with support from the AFT Innovation Fund. They will give advice on what should be done to prepare new teachers and what mistakes not to make in implementing the Common Core standards in the classroom.
Presenters: Deborah Paden, teacher on assignment, AFT/CTU Innovation Fund; Erin O’Brien, special projects facilitator, Chicago Teachers Union Quest Center; Thaylia Ann Foster, project director-JCAFT Innovation Fund grant, Jefferson County AFT

The Changing Politics of Education Privatization and the Dispossessed Lives Left Behind
The current cascade of reforms to public education is a consequence of a larger intention to shrink government. The startling result is that more of public education’s assets and resources are moving to the private sector and to the prison-industrial complex. The presentation will focus on the impact that privatization has on teachers, students and impoverished minority communities.
Presenter: Michael Fabricant, treasurer of the Professional Staff Congress, and professor at Hunter College, City University of New York


Creating a Safe, Secure School and Workplace
All people deserve to feel safe and to be safe in their workplaces. This session focuses both on the strategies you can use to prevent and defuse potentially violent situations and on the principles of security awareness in and around the workplace. Participants will learn about skills such as creating safe and secure schools and workplaces, conducting safety audits, crisis de-escalation techniques, and safe strategies that can be used during confrontational episodes with violence-prone individuals.
Presenter: David Kazansky, director of school safety, United Federation of Teachers, New York City

Help English Language Learners Succeed! Professional Development and Parent Outreach Resources for PreK-12 Educators on Colorín Colorado
For almost a decade, Colorín Colorado—a free online resource from PBS station WETA and the AFT for preK-12 educators of ELLs of all language backgrounds—has helped educators reach their students’ families, teach literacy skills, and deliver research-based language and content-area instruction. Whether you are a mainstream teacher, a paraprofessional, a parent liaison, or a veteran ESL educator, this workshop is for you! Come learn about what’s new on Colorín Colorado, including our Common Core resources for ELLs, as well as how to use the site as a professional development and parent outreach tool.
Presenters: Lydia Breiseth, manager, Colorín Colorado, WETA; Becky Corr, ESL teacher, Douglas County (Colo.) High School

Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools
What would it really take to give students a first-rate education? Some argue that our schools are irremediably broken and that charter schools offer the only solution. The striking achievement of Union City, N.J.—bringing poor, mostly immigrant kids into the education mainstream—argues for reinventing the public schools we have. In this session, author David Kirp, who has worked on education policy for four decades, shares what he learned after spending a year in Union City, witnessing a transformation the likes of which he had never seen before.
Presenter: David Kirp, professor of public policy, University of California, Berkeley


The Power of Teacher Leadership
What do school safety, student discovery, the impact of prekindergarten, project-based learning, and student achievement and teacher evaluation have in common? All are issues researched by teachers in the AFT Teacher Leaders Program. Get the teachers’ perspectives on how these issues affect the students and teachers involved, and how these teachers have become home-grown leaders through their work in this program.
Presenters: Matthew Imperato, eighth-grade teacher, United Educators of San Francisco; Enrique Baloyra, middle school teacher, United Teachers of Dade (Fla.); Precious Symonette, middle school teacher, United Teachers of Dade; Mona Al-Hayani, social studies teacher, Toledo Federation of Teachers; Jose Luis Jimenez, elementary school teacher, United Federation of Teachers, New York City; Jim Faber, pre-K teacher, Houston Federation of Teachers; Cecelia Gaines-Williams, middle school teacher, United Teachers of Dade; LaShanda West, middle school teacher, United Teachers of Dade


Reconnecting McDowell: Connecting the Dots
Local and state partners that have united to connect the dots of resources available in McDowell County W.Va., will explain their motivation and their strategies to support and leverage each other’s work, so that ultimately students, families, and community members in the county will have access to opportunities and success.
Presenters: Nelson Spencer, superintendent, McDowell County Public Schools; Andi Herman Sr., account executive; ePlus Technology; Jennifer Plymale, director, Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health at Marshall University; Joe Carter, international vice president, United Mine Workers of America