The American Federation of Teachers' Prize for Solution-Driven Unionism recognizes outstanding collective work to create solutions that improve workplaces and communities. The 2013 prize rewards AFT members and affiliates that have tackled big challenges with concrete results and best exemplify the AFT's commitment to providing high-quality public education, healthcare and public services.
New York Performance Standards Consortium ($25,000 award)
Composed of 39 public high schools, the consortium has developed, refined, and implemented curriculums and assessments that serve as an alternative to high-stakes testing. The organization, which has invested heavily in professional development, has led students to higher graduation and college acceptance rates, and lower suspension and dropout rates, when compared with the rest of the state.
AFT Connecticut ($25,000 award)
Faced with threats from the governor's office of layoffs and deep benefits cuts for public workers, AFT Connecticut worked as part of a statewide labor coalition to implement a new health plan for the state, ultimately saving $1.6 billion and the pensions of state workers.
Charlotte County (Fla.) Support Personnel Association ($5,000 award)
The Charlotte County Support Personnel Association, in close collaboration with Charlotte County Public Schools, designed and implemented a professional development program to attract, train and retain employees. The voluntary program, called the Charlotte Academy of Support Employees, has been praised by participants for increasing job satisfaction and enhancing their skills.
How the Winners were Selected
After accepting entries during an open application period, the AFT identified a group of finalists from among the applicants. The finalists were judged by members of the Albert Shanker Institute's board of directors and the AFT Innovation Fund advisory board. The judges looked for the best examples of applicants that had worked in coalitions to achieve shared goals, turned unfavorable conditions into opportunities for more positive outcomes, or devised solutions to improve the quality of services the AFT and its affiliates deliver. AFT officers made the final decisions on the prizes.
State and local affiliates of the AFT, across all constituencies, are eligible for the awards. Groups of AFT members in the workplace (such as a school, university, hospital, or state or local government office) are also eligible, but individuals are not.