AFT Resolution

MAKING “BLACK LIVES MATTER” IN OUR SCHOOLS

WHEREAS, the United States has come to a historic moment of reckoning with the systemic racism that has long plagued it, dating back to the enslavement of Africans forcibly brought to our shores in 1619, as a result of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and so many others, and the powerful protest movement that has taken shape in their wake; and

WHEREAS, as educators, it is our particular responsibility to make schools into welcoming and nurturing environments for our students by eliminating from them all forms of racism that harm the well-being and damage the educational development of Black students; and

WHEREAS, to this end, it is essential to reform the school disciplinary codes, regulations and practices that negatively and disproportionately impact Black students, contributing to a school-to-prison pipeline in which youth are criminalized; and

WHEREAS, to this end, it is essential to develop inclusive curriculum and employ culturally responsive pedagogy that reflects the full diversity of our students, especially the historical experience and heritage cultures of Black students; and

WHEREAS, to this end, it is essential to transform the American teaching force to better reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of our students, so that Black students have the same opportunities to be taught by teachers who can serve as inspirational role models as white students have; and

WHEREAS, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks have focused national attention on pervasive police violence against Black people, and on the militarization of policing which too often makes police into an occupying force in the communities they should protect and serve; and

WHEREAS, while education, healthcare and other vital social services have borne the brunt of government policies of austerity and inadequate funding for the last half century, police and law enforcement budgets were often held harmless and even increased: Policing now consumes far too much of discretionary funds of state and local governments; and

WHEREAS, to the extent that school discipline and safety has been under the control and direction of police, it has detrimentally impacted students of color:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers affirms its historic commitment to ending systemic racism in American society, and to removing all manifestations of that racism from America’s schools; and

RESOLVED, that to achieve these goals, the AFT will work with organizations committed to ending systemic racism in American society, such as Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, and the NAACP, and with organizations committed to ending racism in schools, such as the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools; Black Lives Matter at School; Facing History, Facing Ourselves; and Teaching Tolerance; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT calls for an end to “zero tolerance” and other disciplinary policies that contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline and the criminalization of Black youth; and

RESOLVED that the AFT supports the separation of the necessary function of school safety from policing and police forces: school security personnel should be trained as peace officers and integrated within the school community, with a focus on nonviolent resolution of conflicts with a minimal use of force; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT affirms its support for the development of inclusive curriculum and culturally responsive pedagogy that reflects the diversity of our students, especially the historical experience and heritage cultures of Black students; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT affirms its support for the diversification of the teaching force and for initiatives designed to recruit, prepare and retain Black teachers and other teachers of color, such as career ladders, teacher education programs in HBCU institutions and public colleges and teacher residency programs; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT affirms its support for community schools that provide a full array of guidance, health and social services to promote the well-being of students; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT supports a reordering of the budgets of state and local governments to provide essential resources to education, healthcare and other social services.

(2021)

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.