AFT Resolution

ADOPTION OF AFT’S TEACHER AND SCHOOL STAFF SHORTAGE TASK FORCE REPORT

WHEREAS, our teacher and PSRP members must deal with stagnant wages that fail to match their similarly educated peers, endless budget austerity, crippling student loan debt, increased class size and workloads, expanding class coverage and administrative responsibilities, insufficient time for preparation and collaboration, meaningless paperwork, and an erosion of work/life balance; and

WHEREAS, schools should be the safest places in our communities but are subjected to unconscionable loss of life, injury and trauma by gun violence and the unwillingness of many political leaders to enact reasonable and effective gun safety laws that are supported by a large majority of the public; and

WHEREAS, the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; political brawling over the teaching of honest history; book banning; malicious efforts to marginalize LGBTQIA+ kids, students of color and immigrant students; and zealots who want to demonize certain groups have created an environment that is damaging to students’ and employees’ well-being; and

WHEREAS, research shows the shortage of teachers is not a result of the reluctance to teach and work with students, but the unsustainable teaching and learning conditions in our schools combined with an appalling lack of educator voice in the decisions that affect their professional and personal lives; and

WHEREAS, while schools have experienced shortages of teachers and school staff for decades, especially for employees of color, and teacher turnover rates were nearly double those of other occupations even before the pandemic, our schools are now experiencing an even greater, unprecedented shortage of teachers and staff; and

WHEREAS, for the first time ever, after almost 50 years, a recent poll showed that a majority of Americans opposed their own children becoming public school teachers, hoping they would select a profession with more respect, higher pay, better working conditions and more opportunities for career advancement; and

WHEREAS, public schools and the people who work in them have endured attacks for decades from self-serving political agendas and profit-seeking opportunists who want to convert the right to a free public education into a private, for-profit commodity; and

WHEREAS, numerous federal and state initiatives over the past several decades have reduced the craft and joy of teaching and learning to data-obsessed accountability compliance models promoted by “A Nation at Risk” in 1983, the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, and Race to the Top in 2009, along with numerous wrong-headed state efforts; and

WHEREAS, in sum, teachers and school staff who have dedicated their professional lives to America’s public school students do not have the climate, culture, conditions and compensation to do their jobs; and

WHEREAS, public education systems exist to support and serve all children, regardless of circumstance or background, and educators not only help students learn facts and critical-thinking skills, but also help mold and shape them as they prepare to take their place in their communities and our country; and

WHEREAS, all of these factors and countless others have made working in public schools more stressful than ever and have fueled a shortage of teachers and school staff, imperiling the future of neighborhood public schools, the institution of public education and the fundamental principles of a free democratic society; and

WHEREAS, the AFT Teacher and School Staff Shortage Task Force was appointed in December 2021 to address these pressing issues:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will adopt the Teacher and School Staff Shortage Task Force report (completed July 2022). It represents the voice of our preK-12 members addressing one of the largest challenges facing American public schools. It is the culmination of in-depth member surveys, multiple listening sessions, numerous virtual and in-person task force meetings, input from top researchers, the hard work of the AFT elected leaders and staff, and the guidance of AFT national officers; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our affiliates will use the report to advocate for policies, resources, practices and supports, and to promote the implementation of recommendations that will address the climate, culture, conditions and compensation needed to make all education professions attractive and sustainable and in doing so serve and preserve our public schools.

(July 16, 2022)

(2022)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.