From AFT

One-Page Fliers on No Child Left Behind

No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the 2002 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, is an enormous, confusing, and extremely important law. It is far from perfect—legislation never is. Nevertheless, NCLB presents a vehicle for achieving many of the AFT's foremost goals—including, identifying the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students, strengthening research-based reading instruction, and making sure that every teacher in every school is qualified. The AFT stands behind NCLB's objectives, but it is also working to revise important aspects of the law's implementation. To help members sort out the law's requirements—and to ensure that the AFT's positions and resulting actions are well known—the AFT is developing a series of one-page fliers on NCLB.

So far, fliers have been developed on the law's requirements about: adequate yearly progress, paraprofessional qualifications, and teacher qualifications. They are available online at and are great for posting in school staff lounges, placing in union newsletters, mailing, and distributing at meetings.

Skill Standards for Paraprofessionals Can Aid Teachers and Education

This new report sets forth, in the form of employment standards, the skills that today's educational support staff need—not just to meet the minimum requirements of today's K–12 and early education settings, but to be high performing. This clear overview should help teachers better understand the kinds of knowledge and skills paraprofessionals bring to their work (e.g., understanding of age-appropriate curriculum requirements and how to recognize various types of disabilities) and the wide range of tasks these staff can undertake (e.g., providing feedback to students, planning for extra-curricular activities, and communicating with families). These standards could spark ideas about how best to deploy educational support staff—and alert teachers to the kind of training they should advocate for on behalf of their classroom assistants.

The report was developed by the Education and Training Voluntary Partnership (ETVP), a coalition of over 150 organizations with knowledge of and interest in the work of educational support and early education staff. The effort was launched in 1998 by just five organizations, including the AFT. The standards describe the major responsibilities of paraprofessionals, related competence measures, and the academic, workplace, and occupational knowledge they need to perform well in their jobs. They were developed through an extensive research and validation process including focus groups with hundreds of frontline workers across the country and reviews by dozens of subject-matter experts. In addition to the immediate help they can provide teachers, the ETVP hopes that these standards will become the basis for paraprofessional certifications, vocational courses, professional development, and meaningful job evaluations. To see the complete set of standards, go to

Help Wanted: Make History

Preserve the Memory of a Human and Labor Rights Champion

"When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" Eleanor Roosevelt asked this question in the February 16, 1946, edition of her "My Day" column. From her strong support of the Women's Trade Union League to her push for civil rights and living wages, working to stir our consciences was a central theme of her tireless efforts. Mrs. Roosevelt chaired the United Nations' subcommittee that drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; helped shape the New Deal; and pushed for youth programs, employment assistance for women, inclusion of blacks in federal programs, and the creation of planned communities with adequate housing.

Today, the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project aims to develop a comprehensive, Web-based archive of Mrs. Roosevelt's extraordinary life—and it needs your help. The Project wants to hear from everyone who has a personal story about Mrs. Roosevelt. If you heard her deliver a speech, read her "My Day" columns, know some connections between her and your family or your union, or have some other tie to her, please contact Brigid O'Farrell at the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, The George Washington University, 2100 Foxhall Road N.W., Washington, DC 20007. Telephone: (in Washington, D.C.) 202-242-6717 or (in California) 650-728-3380. E-mail: To learn more about Eleanor Roosevelt and the Project, visit

You and Your Students Can Contribute to the Veterans History Project

Famous or ordinary, we each hold part of the nation's collective memory and, whether through stories at the dinner table or speeches in front of thousands, we each share some of that history with others. But, like all those who in some way placed their country above themselves, our veterans embody an especially important piece of our national heritage. Now you and your students can recognize their sacrifices while learning research skills by volunteering for the Veterans History Project. Created by the American Folklife Center, a division of the Library of Congress, the project "enlists" regular people of all ages to conduct oral history interviews and collect photos, diaries, and other materials that veterans may want to share. To participate, just follow the step-by-step guide on the project's Web site—from biographical data forms to interview questions to an online seminar, everything you need is here: Once your project is complete, submit it to the Library of Congress or to one of the hundreds of partner organizations all over the U.S., including libraries, school history clubs, museums, American Legion Posts, and universities.

American Educator, Winter 2003-2004