AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, from its founding in 1916, the American Federation of Teachers has always led the fight for economic, social and racial justice—including establishing itself as one of the first unions to call for equal pay for African-American teachers, for the election of African-Americans to local school boards and for compulsory school attendance for African-American children; and

WHEREAS, the AFT was the only education organization to file an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in which the U.S. Supreme Court abolished legally sanctioned segregation in schools; and

WHEREAS, the AFT recognizes that our fight for an America that lives up to its promise of liberty and justice for all is not yet won; and

WHEREAS, “separate but equal” is no longer the law of the land, but systemic inequity in education has relegated millions of children of color to under-resourced, struggling schools; and

WHEREAS, black male students lag far behind their white counterparts in several measures of educational attainment, including in graduation rates, which keeps gainful employment out of reach; and

WHEREAS, starting as early as preschool, black male students are affected disproportionately by suspensions, expulsions and zero-tolerance discipline policies in schools; and

WHEREAS, there has been an alarming number of incidents of police-involved violence against black men, women and children; and

WHEREAS, in October 2014, members of the AFT executive council started a blunt, tough, uncomfortable, but important conversation to determine how our union can address the lingering effects of racism and inequality and, in particular, the impact on black males; and

WHEREAS, the executive council approved a statement of intent, “Closing the Achievement Gap for Black Males,” that laid the groundwork for our fight forward for racial justice and established the AFT’s racial equity task force to develop union-driven solutions codified in a series of recommendations to guide the work of our union; and

WHEREAS, as our union enters its second century, the AFT is reaffirming our commitment to the fight forward to defend and uphold the rights of all Americans, including women, people of color, the disabled, all ethnic minorities, immigrants and members of the LGBT community:

RESOLVED, that the starting point of our work in the area of racial equity must be reflection and internal examination, whereby our union—at the local, state and national levels—will look for ways to engage our members in open and courageous conversations on racism, inequity and privilege; and

RESOLVED, that our union—at the local, state and national levels—will create opportunities for black males in leadership and employment in workplaces throughout our society, including our union; and

RESOLVED, that our union will push the recommendations of the racial equity task force as a framework for the development of policy—in state and national legislation, at the local school board level and inside the AFT; and

RESOLVED, that our union will push for changes in school discipline policies to include restorative justice and more equitable enforcement, including the creation of review processes in schools to ensure that black male students are treated fairly; and

RESOLVED, that our union will advocate for the development and implementation of programs to intentionally help identify, recruit, develop and retain black male educators and staff, and provide professional development and cultural competency training that helps teachers and other school staff understand the effects of long-term discrimination and pervasive poverty and helps them examine bias, including that which may reside in all of us; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our affiliates will work to develop funding strategies, mentoring and counseling to create greater opportunity for black males to attend college, and will establish partnerships with trade unions to develop apprenticeship programs that provide job training and placement in trade careers to open the door to economic opportunity for black males.