AFT president visits Ferguson community

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AFT President Randi Weingarten, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D-Mo.) traveled to St. Louis and Ferguson, Mo., on Dec. 16 to visit with students, teachers, administrators and members of a community still reeling from events tied to the fatal August shooting of Michael Brown and the concerns it has raised about civil rights and law enforcement.

Weingarten and others meeting with studentsThe leaders visited Clyde C. Miller Career Academy High School in St. Louis and nearby Riverview Gardens High School, which serves students who live in the apartment complex where Brown, a black teenager, was shot by a white Ferguson police officer. Later, the AFT president talked with students, teachers, community activists, and school and labor leaders at Ferguson Municipal Public Library and Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in Ferguson.

Weingarten also got a chance to engage with AFT St. Louis members, who are striving to keep teaching and learning on track while the long process of healing begins in the community. The AFT president closed out the tour feeling hopeful and optimistic about that process but acknowledged how disheartening it was to see such pain and mistrust in a community already wracked with economic inequality.

"The level of resilience and thoughtfulness in such pain and struggle is remarkable and breathtaking," said Weingarten.

[Richard Fowler, St. Louis Post-Dispatch]