CSI 2021 Team Highlights
Since the culmination of CSI 2021, the American Federation of Teachers and the Schlechty Center have been working with three local unions and their members to determine how the content and topics of AFT’s 2021 Center for School Improvement Leadership Institute can be used to leverage social justice work underway now and to design, develop and implement culturally responsive systems. Through a customized approach, such support meets unions and union leaders where they are in their work, while building sustainable systems that engage union members, administrators, school boards, students, families and school communities.
CSI featured teams:
- St. Croix Education Association (Stillwater, Minn.)
- North Bergen Federation of Teachers (North Bergen, N.J.)
- Curtis High School (New York City)
St. Croix Education Association, Stillwater, Minn.
In spring 2020, the St. Croix Education Association leaders in Stillwater established an equity committee, which is responsible for identifying, connecting with and engaging underrepresented groups within the district. As a result of SCEA’s participation in AFT’s CSI 2020 institute, union leaders are leveraging the content and materials of the institute to design systems and structures to realize the committee’s goal of creating just and equitable conditions for every student and allow for the full participation of all members of our staff and school community. SCEA President Josiah Hill credits his union for leading equity efforts and acknowledges that district administrators and school board members work in partnership to ensure that policies and practices are in place to foster equity efforts systemwide. Several students participated in CSI 2020, and union leaders continue to engage students in the equity committee’s work. “We are making sure our students are players in this effort,” SCEA President Hill says.
North Bergen Federation of Teachers
After attending AFT’s CSI 2020 institute, North Bergen Federation of Teachers leaders were inspired by the three frames of unionism—industrial, professional and social justice—and as a result, strengthened their commitment to professional learning with a focus on social justice. “We started with our executive committee members by engaging them in conversations about the role of the union in promoting social justice,” says NBFT President Carol Toomey. The CSI 2021 team conducted a survey of the executive committee—assessing knowledge, interest, and commitment to social justice and equity. Union leaders then used the results, accompanied by a deep-dive design to develop a professional learning framework. With the support of AFT’s Professional Learning series, NBFT is offering a six-credit course, “Strategies for Student Success: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy,” this fall with a follow-up train-the-trainer course to build the union’s capacity to design, lead and facilitate profession learning districtwide.
Curtis High School, New York City
Union leaders from Curtis High School (on Staten Island, N.Y.) are members of the United Federation of Teachers. They leveraged their AFT CSI 2021 experience to bolster its collaborative Curtis Black and Brown Coalition whose mission is to create a community that acknowledges, respects, values and reflects ethnicities of color. Building on the solid work underway and fostering collaborative relationships with the principal and other school leaders, the CBBC was part of the high school’s hiring committee this past summer, which resulted in nine new hires, five of whom are teachers of color. CBBC members are also designing and facilitating Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Teaching professional development across the school, consistent with the state of New York. Crucial to CBBC’s mission is engaging students to inform the coalition’s agenda and to promote its work schoolwide. “We are committed to our mission; listening carefully to our students and understanding what they envision for our school is at the heart of our work,” says CBBC member Diane Issacs.