To help ensure that state, district and school policies relating to early reading instruction and intervention are sound, state and local affiliate leaders must become as knowledgeable as possible about what a comprehensive, effective, research-based early reading program entails. Armed with that knowledge, affiliate leaders can advocate effectively for such a program—and the requisite supports classroom teachers and other staff will need to meet students' instructional needs.
Then, wherever possible, collaborate with the district to select or develop curricula, to select instructional materials and assessments and to identify professional development needs. Then, again working in tandem with the district, develop appropriate ways to allocate resources and designate time into the schedule for dedicated reading instruction, intervention for students who need it and professional development for staff—including classroom paraprofessionals and principals.
Within the structure of affiliate governance and operations, give a high priority to efforts relating to improving early reading instruction. Designate a team of union leaders and members whose responsibility is to help troubleshoot ways in which members need union support/ intercession on matters relating to early reading instruction and intervention.
If possible, participate in the AFT's Educational Research and Dissemination (ER&D) training to learn how reading research has been translated and aligned with effective instructional practices. If ER&D is not an option, become involved in vetting and then participating in other professional development opportunities.
Collaborate with local organizations, including parent groups, to share information with parents and other caregivers about how they can help support their children's early reading achievement.