For more than four years, the AFT has guided the efforts of a public-private partnership to bring much-needed resources and services to McDowell County, W.Va., a geographically isolated area in the heart of Appalachia. Known as Reconnecting McDowell, the initiative has encouraged a renewed emphasis on improving the county's schools by focusing on mentoring students and establishing community schools. Reconnecting McDowell is highlighted in the cover story of the Summer 2016 issue of American Educator.
The next article in the new issue examines "teacher-powered schools"—schools that are collaboratively designed and run by teachers. Such schools can mitigate the frustrations educators experience from a lack of voice and autonomy, by enabling them to create schools that increase their engagement in teaching and their students' engagement in learning.
The issue includes an article on the need to strengthen the teaching profession by preparing educators with clinical expertise based on theory and practice that empowers them to make the best decisions possible.
Next is an article by Lorretta Johnson, AFT secretary-treasurer, who recounts her 50 years with the union and stresses the importance of the labor movement to racial equity and economic justice.
Also, an article by cognitive scientist Daniel T. Willingham focuses on "grit," a newly identified character trait defined as "passion and perseverance for long-term goals." While certain parts of grit can be taught, research is only beginning to examine how to do it.
The issue concludes with an article about writing based on knowledge and understanding. For students to write well, they must learn content as well as the essential elements of effective writing: focus, organization, and appropriate voice and tone.
The complete Summer 2016 issue is available online.