AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, the closing of public schools in cities across the U.S., as well as turnarounds, and other school actions, have negatively and disproportionately impacted Black and brown communities; and

WHEREAS, according to The Atlantic (Sept. 9, 2019), “The black population of both New York and Los Angeles [as well as Chicago] peaked in the early 2000s and has since been in steady, and perhaps accelerating, decline,” as housing and living costs increase; and

WHEREAS, many of the American Federation of Teachers’ largest locals serve students of color predominantly: Chicago, 88.5 percent, New York, 84.9 percent, Los Angeles, 88.5 percent, Philadelphia, 86 percent, and Detroit, 97.3 percent; and

WHEREAS, since 2001 (when Black teachers made up 40 percent of Chicago Public Schools teachers), the number of Black teachers in Chicago has dropped by 5,500, and nationally, the percentage of Black teachers has dropped from 8.1 percent in 1971 to 6.7 percent today, even though the percentage of the Black population as a whole has risen to 13 percent; and

WHEREAS, states, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington have passed laws requiring Black history to be taught in public schools; and

WHEREAS, AFT Local 1, Chicago Teachers Union, supported the development and implementation of the “Reparations Won” curriculum, which was a part of the nationally historic and precedent-setting reparations package, whose requirements included that the history and fight for justice of the John Burge police torture survivors be taught to all eighth- and 10th-grade students in Chicago Public Schools; and

WHEREAS, the implementation of ethnic studies and culturally sustaining curricula is of critical importance to supporting the learning needs of all students, but particularly Black and brown students who make up the vast majority of many major school systems; and

WHEREAS, according to Statista, in 2019, 1,004 people were shot and killed by police, and “the rate of fatal police shootings among Black Americans was much higher than that for any other ethnicity, standing at 30 fatal shootings per million” (compared to 12 per million for whites); and

WHEREAS, according to Cleveland State University social work professor Christopher Mallett, school policing is "still very disproportionately harming students of color, students with learning disabilities, and the students who identify as LGBTQ"; and

WHEREAS, discipline, criminalization and over-policing of Black and brown students have proven to be ineffective in the improvement of outcomes, damaging on their health and well-being, and restorative practices are proven to be a powerful tool in the reduction of disproportionate discipline and improved school climate; and

WHEREAS, AFT locals, including the Chicago Teachers Union and United Teachers Los Angeles, have fought for and won increased staffing of social workers and nurses and the protection of counselor time to do counseling work, and will continue to fight until school districts hire, staff, and retain clinicians and counselors in schools at levels recommended by their respective national professional organizations in order to support and address students’ social, emotional and other needs:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will endorse participation in Black Lives Matter at School Week to begin during Black History Month the week of Feb. 1-5, 2021, and in subsequent years; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will host events during or around this week and engage in advocacy on an ongoing basis aligned to the national demands for hiring more Black teachers and ending the pushout of Black teachers in our schools, proper implementation of restorative practices in schools and ending zero tolerance discipline, teaching students Black history and other ethnic studies curricula, and funding more counselors in schools as opposed to police officers; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will encourage its members to wear Black Lives Matter at School shirts to school that week and teach lessons about related topics.