AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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About AFT Teachers

The teachers division of the American Federation of Teachers is the oldest and largest segment of the union’s growing and diverse membership. AFT Teachers represents approximately 850,000 Prek-12 public school teachers, a majority of whom work in traditional public schools with others representing charter schools and child care centers. The division is responsible for providing leadership to thousands of AFT local affiliates; developing and implementing school improvements; enhancing teacher quality; and generating higher standards and better assessments.

Nearly 100 years ago, a group of Chicago teachers from eight locals saw teaching as an honored profession that needed organized power and formed the American Federation of Teachers. Since then, the AFT has been a major force for preserving and strengthening America’s democratic commitment to public education and public service by:

  • desegregating public schools;
  • passing the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act;
  • establishing tenure laws and academic freedom;
  • outlawing yellow dog contracts that prohibited joining a union;
  • raising salaries;
  • engaging in collective bargaining; and
  • championing educational improvement for urban schools, English Language Learners and other historically disadvantaged groups.

Today, AFT Teachers follows the lead of AFT president Randi Weingarten by embracing innovation and ensuring equality in education through broad reform approaches. The division is working to support teachers through the comprehensive teacher development and evaluation template, useful Tools for Teachers, guidance in National Board certification, and professional development through the Educational Research and Development Program. Efforts in school improvement include designing high schools for student success, supporting disadvantaged students through community schools, and assisting reforms in persistently low-achieving schools. Urging for adequate school funding to prevent devastating teacher layoffs, collaborating in the development and implementation of the Common Core Standards, and providing input on Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization are among other current initiatives supported by AFT Teachers.

The AFT Teachers program and policy council includes nearly 60 representatives from local affiliates nationwide. The council meets throughout the year to discuss key issues aligned with the national AFT mission and to direct the work of AFT Teachers accordingly.

Marla Ucelli-Kashyap, Assistant to the President for Educational Issues; mucelli@aft.org

 
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