AFT Convention Daily: Saturday July 16, 2022

Community schools succeed from the grass roots up

On Saturday four AFT leaders shared their experiences growing community schools, each zealously advocating for these hubs where services such as healthcare, food pantries, housing assistance and more are available, ensuring students’ basic needs are met so that they can focus on learning. “This is pretty much the most important educational and social strategy that we can have that will help kids thrive,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Parents and teachers are partners in safeguarding children’s well-being

The Saturday morning session focused on working together to make sure all children have opportunities to learn and thrive in environments that are safe, healthy and supportive—not political battlefields. Delegates heard from National PTA Executive Director Nathan Monell on how to build bridges between families and teachers, and from AFT President Randi Weingarten and community activists on the AFT’s new Powerful Partnerships Institute to support affiliates’ parent and community engagement programs.

Powerful Partnerships

AFT commits to tackling teacher and school staff shortages with real-world solutions

In a Special Order of Business, delegates unanimously adopted a new report from the AFT Teacher and School Staff Shortage Task Force. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow? What America Must Do to Attract and Retain the Educators and School Staff Our Students Need examines the root causes of snowballing shortages and spells out practical solutions that will improve teaching, working and learning conditions.

Moss exhorts us to remain ‘stewards of democracy’

The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, a minister and civil rights leader, shared his grandfather’s astounding determination to vote, which he has captured in a compelling—and free—short film, Otis’ Dream. He moved AFT delegates to tears on Saturday, then had them cheering as he rallied everyone to the cause of fighting today’s rampant voter suppression. Watch his family’s story with your students, family and friends to help get out the vote.

Even in war zones, educators are making a difference

The AFT's engagement in community building and dedication to child welfare extends beyond our borders. AFT President Randi Weingarten visited Poland this year at the invitation of Polish Teachers’ Trade Union President Sławomir Broniarz to meet with teachers, students and Ukrainian refugees. Weingarten also met Olha Chabaniuk, vice president of the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine. Chabaniuk spoke to AFT members in Boston on July 16 about the devastation of the war and her hope for preserving democracy.

Resolutions passed on everything from solving staffing crises to defending democracy

Friday, July 16, was especially busy as delegates debated, amended and ultimately adopted 13 resolutions. Three resolutions from the Educational Issues Committee expressed support for developing more community schools, reimagining assessments to be culturally responsive and support learning, and fulfilling the promise of public schools to empower all learners. Plus, through a Special Order of Business, delegates adopted an AFT task force report on “the climate, culture, conditions and compensation needed to make all education professions attractive and sustainable.” The RNs/Healthcare Workers and Healthcare Access/Quality Committee’s three resolutions set forth strategies to tackle the staffing crisis, committed to preventing violence and supporting healthcare workers’ mental health, and pledged to enhance professional development, mentoring and emotional support for nurses. Another set of three resolutions came from the Schools and Colleges Support Staff Issues Committee; these addressed fighting for living wages, increasing workplace safety and advocating for school meals for all. Finally, from the Political Action/Legislation Committee, three resolutions commit to defending democracy in America and getting out the vote, urging workers’ retirement funds to divest from fossil fuels and invest in projects that benefit society and the climate, and making sports welcoming for transgender and gender-expansive students by fighting for nondiscrimination policies.

Worth checking out

This daily update is produced by the AFT communications department. Photos by Pamela Wolfe, Michael Campbell and Suzannah Hoover.