AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers and its member unions have historically and consistently promoted a public education system that offers all children—irrespective of neighborhood, race, class or cultural heritage—a high, common standard for what they are expected to learn and be able to do; and

WHEREAS, since the early 1990s, the AFT and its member unions have advocated that this goal is essential to the adoption of core national standards around which an aligned implementation system could be developed—including a rich and challenging core curriculum in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies; quality early childhood education; teacher education and professional development; diagnostic, formative and summative assessments; and specialized interventions for students who are falling behind; and

WHEREAS, the AFT and its member unions have been deeply involved in the standards movement to ensure that all American students learn what they need to compete in the global economy and to be active citizens in our democracy; and

WHEREAS, 48 states have signed on to create a common core of standards in mathematics and language arts that states can adopt, with standards for other disciplines in development, and many of those states, including Illinois, have already adopted or pledged to adopt these common core standards; and

WHEREAS, AFT teacher volunteers helped to review, edit and improve the draft of common core standards in mathematics and language arts as a sound first step in providing teacher input into the process of developing and implementing a rich, well-rounded curriculum for all students; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Education has supported the adoption of common core standards as crucial to the improvement of schooling in our nation and has agreed to fund the development of aligned summative assessments based on those standards; and

WHEREAS, educational reforms important to the AFT, such as those detailed in "A New Path Forward" and "AFT's Pathway to Student Success"—including responsible, effective teacher development and evaluation processes; ongoing, job-embedded professional development aligned to staff needs for professional growth; and effective, appropriate assessments designed to further student learning—all depend first on having and implementing a clear set of standards that are specific, detailed and rigorous; and

WHEREAS, states and districts that are serious about building on the promise of standards to achieve comprehensive, system wide improvements in teaching and learning will need to develop tools to adequately implement those standards—such as quality model core curricula; professional development; teaching materials and texts; diagnostic, formative and summative assessments; and other classroom supports that are all aligned to the standards in order to make any assessment of student or teacher performance meaningful; and

WHEREAS, the Council of Great City Schools, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers in collaboration with the AFT have begun to work together on the first steps in the development of a comprehensive standards-based system:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers continue to advocate strongly for a set of rigorous national standards and to encourage states to adopt such standards; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT continue to advocate for common core standards and the development of aligned curriculum, professional development based on the curriculum, teaching materials, student intervention systems and assessments; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT work to ensure that standards be designed and reviewed by groups that include a significant representation of teachers, with strong teacher input throughout the process, and that such standards be of high quality and rooted in rich content knowledge, as teachers know they must be; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT assist state federations as they seek to review and work toward the adoption of such standards, including helping locals to work in collaboration with school districts to develop and implement rich, well-rounded curricula based on these common core standards.